Twentynine Palms -- > I’m originally from Jacksonville, Fla. We moved up and down the East Coast, so I’ve lived in a bunch of different places like Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania. I graduated high school in Virginia Beach and was recruited into the Marine Corps from there.
> I originally enlisted as a combat illustrator, before they changed the occupation into production specialist. I was one of the last Marines to go through that course when it was actual illustration. The first month was pen and pencil while the second was charcoal and ink, before moving on to digital. Originally, the illustrators were the guys who climbed up a tree and drew maps; now it’s more geared toward art and reproduction.
> I’ve never actually done either one of those jobs. For my first duty station, I had orders to 1st Marine Division in 2007 and when I got there we were short on manpower. They gave me a camera and said, “Hey, learn.” I went to Korea for a month. I came back and they sent me on leave before Mojave Viper and then to Afghanistan.
> I was deployed with [2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment,] in 2008. The Combat Camera guys typically got put in different companies and from there we captured photos of operations. I spent all my time in the Weapons Company with the [Combined Anti-Armor Team] platoon.
> Once we got back, I stayed in [Marine Corps Base Camp] Pendleton for about six months before I went to [3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment] and deployed to Afghanistan with them. My first deployment was very kinetic and we did a lot; the second one was much slower.
> The Marine Corps has taught me a lot about stress and time management. In 2011, I got sent to the 11th MEU and we went to about 15 different countries. I got back from the MEU in 2012 and then went through the [Military Information Support Operations] Course at Ft. Bragg, N.C. As of last November, I’ve been in the Marine Corps for 10 years.
> I play a lot of guitar, paint a lot and I’m actually working on getting my second book published. I published my first back in October called, “Smokepit Fairytales.” It’s a pretty in-depth story about a Marine lance corporal and his best friend who is a corpsman.
> I actually really like the aspect of just sitting down and writing. It’s almost like you’re letting your imagination out of your brain for a little bit.
> More than anything, art is an escape from reality. If you see something that’s awesome you can take a picture, but you can only take a picture of something that already exists. Say I have an image in my head of the Eiffel Tower. To me, it looks like Godzilla’s toothpick. You’re never going to get a picture but with painting and art you can create that image. It allows you to get outside of the realm of reality.
> I taught myself how to play guitar. My dad knew how to play and inspired me to learn, but he’s the kind of guy who would play chords and sing along. I was already geared more toward Guns and Roses and death metal, so I learned how to pick a lot of different songs.
> You’re less stagnant that way. There is a lot more freedom in what you can do while picking different tunes.
> Out of everyone who inspired me in the Marine Corps, I would say the most inspiring was this guy named Freddie Cantu, one of my platoon sergeants. He’s a real smart and strong dude. If you had a medical appointment at 7 a.m. and couldn’t make the 10-mile run for morning PT, he would take you on the run during our lunch break and do it again with you.
> Once I leave the Marine Corps, if I can get a literary career going great. If not, I’ll go to art school and learn how to do tattoos. The common argument against tattoos is that your body is supposed to be a temple. Well, what temple doesn’t have art in it?