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Mike Spillard, boiler plant operator, Public Works Division, enjoys building and assembling components and has plans to study engineering in Japan. Spillard, a former Marine intelligence specialist, is learning Japanese while he saves up to go to college. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Thomas Mudd/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Thomas Mudd

What I’ve Learned: Mike Spillard

12 Jan 2017 | Cpl. Thomas Mudd Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Boiler plant operator, Public Works Division

Hometown: Compton, Calif.

>Before I joined the Marine Corps I did a lot of skateboarding. Now that I have more time, I have gotten back to doing it again. I thought that it would be hard but I got right back on the board like I never got off.

>Cooking is another thing that I have gotten into. It’s an entertaining thing to do and I enjoy it. I did learn how to make sushi, which is cool.

> I didn’t really have a person who made me want to join the military but I knew that I wanted to join the military. I joined the Marine Corps very soon after high school. No one really affected my decision to join. I didn’t know there was a difference between any of the branches. I wanted to join the military and the Marine Corps contacted me, which is why I chose them, oddly enough.

>I started getting really into swimming once I joined the Marine Corps. I thought that I should practice it so that I would be able to use it if I needed to. I wanted to be strong enough to save someone if the time ever came.

>I ended up with a [military occupational specialty] in intelligence. It was a good experience but I knew that it was not something I could keep doing. I did get to learn about the different places and topics that I wrote about. It was interesting to learn about those things.

>Shortly after I joined, I got married and my wife and I spent my entire time in the Marine Corps here in Twentynine Palms. I had known my wife for about 12 years before we got married.

>We love it here. We are both from a city and when we came out here it was like everything slowed down.

>Now I have two kids and I’m beginning to follow the things that I always loved. I was always interested in building things. I have always wanted to be an engineer. Building things and creating things have always been one of my favorite things to do. I have always like to figure out how things work and see what I could do if put things together in a certain way.

>Right after I got out of the Marine Corps, the base asked if I wanted to work for them doing some of the background checks. I took the job and it wasn’t until about a year later that I met a person who worked at the co-generation plants.

>He took me to one of [the plants] and I realized that I wanted to work here. Everything that happens in this plant is giving me the knowledge of engineering I want. I get to learn about different machines that I work with. I asked what I needed to do to work here and he said that I could come by and learn about all the different things that happen at the co-gen plants.

>I went every day to learn about all I could. One day they started looking for people who wanted to work at the plants and I got the job. I couldn’t have been happier.

>This is the best job I could ask for to start my career in engineering. I have been able to look at turbines and various other objects that I find awesome.

> I plan to keep working here until I can save up enough to go to Japan and go to college for engineering. There is a great college that I can study engineering there. Also, a large amount of new things are made there. Everything is engineered and I want to be around that for at least a while.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms