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Cpl. Michael Eldridge, main battle tank repairer, Combat Logistics Company 13, has been training in Taekwondo for ten years and is a first degree black belt. He hopes to become an explosive ordnance disposal technician. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Connor Hancock)

Photo by Cpl. Connor Hancock

What I’ve Learned: Michael Eldridge

22 Feb 2017 | Cpl. Connor Hancock Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

>There are a lot of lessons in Martial Arts besides just fighting. Taekwondo definitely taught me to keep pushing no matter how hard things get. It puts me in a hyper-focused mindset, especially during sparring.

>Martial Arts isn’t all about physical attacks; there’s a lot of philosophy that comes with it. Students are taught about the principles like perseverance and indomitable spirit, similar to the Marine Corps.

>I definitely wouldn’t be as calm as I am now if it weren’t for Taekwondo. I used to act on impulse and now I think things through before taking action. It helped give me the perseverance I needed to commit to the Marine Corps.

>I always wanted to join the military. My uncle was a Marine and my grandfather was in the Army. I just knew I wanted to serve, do something that mattered and make an impact.

>Growing up, I had a background in mechanics and enjoyed working on my own vehicles, so I wanted to do combat vehicle repairs for the Marine Corps. I figured I might as well expand my knowledge and bring what skills I can to the table.

>Working on tanks was entirely different. They have different engines, turbines, etc. It still helped knowing my way around a toolbox.

>I’ve met some great people in this [military occupational specialty]. During some of the lowest moments, you get to know who people really are. Whether it’s dealing with bad weather in field or stressful moments, you build bonds over it.

>Going to the gym helps relieve stress and allows me to use my anger to my benefit. I read a lot on my free time. I read a lot of history, physics, science, and biographical books. Reading keeps your mind active and keeps you up to speed. Those who don’t read history are doomed to repeat it. This is especially important in the military.

>I also try to study the basics of various languages. To me, it’s more valuable to know enough to get by in multiple languages than to only be fluent in one or two. I could get by speaking Spanish, German or French.

>I’ve been collecting weapons since I was 14 years old. I have about 25 various swords including claymores and katanas. Some of them are sharpened and some I mainly use for display.

>I’m a huge Patriots fan. Seeing them win the Super Bowl recently was very meaningful. They’re not in it for themselves. They’re a great group of guys and they see how much the team means to the people of New England, where I was born.

>I plan on re-enlisting and want to become an [explosive ordnance disposal technician] because they help save a lot of lives and that’s a noble cause. If I like it, I’ll definitely stay in and try to make a career out of it. If I can’t, I’d like to be a part of a bomb squad in a police department.

>The Corps and martial arts both changed me for the better and improved my ability to stay committed.

>Being stationed out here made me appreciate what I have more. I learned to take life one day at a time and to not let the little things get me down.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms