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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

"Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command"

Twentynine Palms, California
What I’ve Learned: Wesley Turner

By Lance Cpl. Isaac Cantrell | Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms | November 8, 2017

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> Growing up, times were much different than now. Everything felt a bit freer. I wasn’t a troublemaker by any means, but my friends and I would run the countryside. I grew up close to the Susquehanna River, which was nice too.

> I raced motocross when I was younger. The football coach always wanted me to join the team, but I never did and I was fine with that.

> I have a brother and three sisters. One of my sisters lives in Pennsylvania, two live in Wisconsin and my brother passed away when I was 45. Most of my family is originally from the Midwest.

> My great uncle on my mom’s side was a Marine, a machine-gunner during World War I. His son was in the Air Force in Vietnam. There were a couple others on that side of the family who joined the military but as far as my dad’s side of the family, I’m the only one.

> My dad had a federal firearms license and was a legal gun dealer, so I started shooting when I was around five years old. I always had an interest in weapons, so it was a natural progression for me to go down to the Marine recruiter when I was 17. I brought the papers home, my dad signed them and I was good to go. The recruiter never had to come and convince my parents.

> I went to boot camp in March of 1990. When I think back on what I was doing back then, it almost seems like a dream. It’s been many years, and names and faces have faded away.

> I have a sort of selective forgetfulness. Not a lot bothers me anymore, which is good, but I have to sit and think about things for a bit to remember old stories and things like that.

> A time that really stands out is when I was in 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines from 1995 to 1999. It was the right people at the right place at the right time; a great unit and a couple great deployments. It was a very defining time for me because it was my second enlistment and my platoon commander at the time was a great leader.

> Another time that stands out was more recently is when I was a Regimental Gunner at 5th Marines from 2011 to 2014. That was another great time, and again it was great because of the people at that place and time. I had good bosses and great coworkers, everybody had a great attitude and everybody really cared. It always comes back to the Marines you work with who make your time worthwhile.

> You learn from the good people and you learn from the bad. You can learn how you want to be from the good people.

> I remember a long time ago, I was in a rifle platoon on Lima-5 in [Camp Lejeune, N.C.,] and we were conducting squad attacks. I was just a rifleman at the time. There was a staff sergeant there who was talking to the fire team leader about making decisions and what he needed to do to be successful. It wasn’t a long and drawn out talk either, he just said “you’ve got to do this, this and this and you got to go! You’ve got to be aggressive! Observe, orientate, decide and act!” To me that was a very defining moment. You have to look around, look at what’s going on, make a decision and you have to go. That’s how you have to be. It’s funny how small things that you observe from good leaders will make you realize what it is you want to do and what you want to be a part of.

> You can learn from bad people as well. You can see what you don’t like about them and make sure that you don’t do things their way when you get to that level.

> It’s important to pick from both the good and the bad experiences and try to define who you are as a person, as a Marine and as a leader.

> You’re always learning, no matter what level you’re at. I’m still learning at this level, working for general officers. I’m constantly learning, because there is always something who knows more than me. Even when you retire, you’ll still be learning.

> The advice that I have in order to be successful is simple. You have to care about what you’re doing, and you have to be focused on what you want to accomplish. You have to know in your mind where it is you want to get and how you’re going to get there. You have to be serious, but you can’t take yourself too seriously.

> The Marine Corps is a tough life and it’s got to be something that you want to do. If you want to do it, you’ll be successful. Think about what you’re doing before you do it; think about what you’re going to say before you say it. There is a time and a place for everything; you just have to use common sense to decide what time you can do or say certain things.

> The whole point of this job, regardless of what your specialty, is to help us win. It is all about winning. A lot of people focus on survivability, but it’s important to learn things in order to win because a byproduct of winning is surviving. Tactics, techniques and procedures make you a winner. If you do the right things, surviving, safety and all those other things are a byproduct.

> If I could go back to the moment I stepped on those yellow footprints, I’d tell myself to enjoy it more. Like I said, I have selective forgetfulness. I never took enough pictures and never talked to enough people. So that would be it, enjoy it more.
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