Twentynine Palms -- “I was born in Atlanta, Ga. Of course you have a good and a bad side to every place you go but I’m from the real bad side,” Trammell said. “Drugs, stealing, just the worst things you can think of happened and that was normal.”
The third of four children, Trammell was raised by a mother who was afflicted by drug addiction for most of her life. Ushered in-and-out of foster homes until the age of 11, Trammell never stayed in one place for long and like many underprivileged children struggled to excel in school. This struggle wasn’t from a lack of intellect or motivation; it was a lack of resources.
“I didn’t have certain things you need for school because I never had the money,” Trammell said. “It was either I was going to go do something bad to get the money or I was going to fail the class.”
Even with the odds stacked against him, Trammell believed failure wasn’t an option. School was a safe haven from the tribulations his world presented and he eventually would go on to become the only one in his family, immediate and extended, to have earned a high school diploma. Trammell saw an education as the only sure way to secure his future. Without it he feared a life hindered by circumstance.
“I started realizing things like the lights being off or us not having food was a result of the way my mom chose to live her life. I’m not blaming her, she gave us shelter and did the best she could, but as I got older I knew everything around me played a part in the person I was going to become; whether it was positive or negative.”
From the Concrete
Trammell was bound and determined to complete his high school education and knew he couldn’t stop there. It was a year before his high school graduation that he would meet the person who changed his life forever.
“I was walking down the hallway in school when Staff Sgt. Ingram Hanes saw me and thought I was skipping class,” Trammell said. “He stopped me and asked ‘what are you going to do with your life’. Before that, no one ever approached me as a man and asked me heart felt questions. I respected him for that.”
Although Trammell never considered the military as an option prior to meeting his recruiter, it was the challenge presented by the Corps that peaked the interest of the Marine-to-be.
“I was told the Marine Corps is the hardest thing you could possibly do,” Trammell said. “I thought to myself ‘why try those easy branches when I can try something else.’ I love challenges and I felt that the Corps was the ultimate challenge at that junction in my life.”
Trammell, like many Marines, has never been a stranger to challenge because he was forced to overcome insurmountable obstacles at an age where he should have been sheltered from them. The lure of a good challenge coupled with the opportunities presented through a career in the military is what ultimately drove Trammell to enlist.
“I know people who grew up, lived their whole life and didn’t do anything but move a street down. Before I joined the Marine Corps I’d never left Atlanta,” Trammell said. “Even still, my environment made me who I am. No one had to teach me that. I felt like I wanted more out of life and I didn’t just want it for myself, I wanted it for my family too.”
Esprit de Corps
Trammell is currently stationed aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center and serves his country as a corporal of Marines. A subsistence non-commissioned officer in charge with the Base Food Service Office, he had to quickly adapt to the demands of his occupational specialty. Like many Marines before him he was faced with challenges beyond his experience level and he rises to each occasion.
“Trammell has been my Marine for nearly two years,” said Gunnery Sgt. Craig Dawkins, operations chief, BFSO, Headquarters Battalion. “When I first met him, he was a lance corporal and was in the process of learning his billet from a corporal. Once the corporal reached his [end of active service], that left, a then, Lance Cpl. Trammell to serve in that billet solo. He was able to accomplish the mission by himself which, was a hefty task for the rank he held. He was in a sink or swim situation and he came out swimming.”
The young lance corporal quickly achieved the rank of corporal and all the while continued to display grace under pressure. This demonstration in composure and work ethic earned him a spot on a board for Marine of the Quarter. After winning the board for his unit he went up for the same board, on a base wide spectrum and, again, saw victory.
“Whenever you put him up against somebody he becomes very competitive,” Dawkins said. “He doesn’t like to be beat in anything, even if he’s never done it before. He’s never golfed before but if you take him out on a golf course he’d probably want to beat Tiger Woods. That’s his character.”
It is that same character that warranted Trammell a spot on the Major General W.P.T Hill Memorial Awards program for Food Service Excellence, Food Service Specialist of the Year. The board pitted him against Marines from different Marine Corps bases who share the same occupational specialty. Although the results of the board are still pending, Trammell was invited to attend a week-long course in the beginning of August at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, Calif., as a result of his nomination to the board.
“I’d say his drive and his passion are what keep him going,” Dawkins said. “I’ve talked to him before about his past. It’s his will to want to compete and be better that makes him who he is and in turn fuels mission accomplishment.”
It is Trammell’s indomitable spirit that his success as a Marine and a person can be attributed to and it undoubtedly propels him to rise above the rest.
“Whatever he wants to do he can do it,” Dawkins said. “Trammell will continue to do well for as long as he chooses.”
Past, Present, Future
Far removed from the days of old, Trammell has found understanding in the circumstances of his childhood.
“I don’t blame my mom for the way I grew up because I was able to talk about my upbringing with my recruiter a lot. You start forgetting all the negative stuff that happens in life and you only remember the positive,” Trammell said. “Even though she was doing what she did, we had a roof most of the time. She got us food even if it was just a bag of noodles. When I see her, I see her as my mom. I only have one mother and she raised me and took care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself. I feel like I owe her the whole world.”
While Trammell is eager to seize every opportunity the Marine Corps presents, he knows he must also give back. He spends as much free time as possible volunteering for color guards, funeral details and events that benefit the local community.
“I feel like the Marine Corps has given me a lot,” Trammell said. “It’s changed me. It’s put my life into a different direction and the least I can do is just give some of my time back. By volunteering I’m paying the Marine Corps back for what it’s done for me.”
Trammell’s ultimate goal is to be able to ensure reach a point where he and his family are always well taken care of. Both his will to thrive and hunger for success will fuel this endeavor and as he approaches the end of his first enlistment Trammell remains open and optimistic for what his future holds.
The young Devil Dog says he is preparing for re-enlistment as well as his end of active service.
“I’m going to put in a re-enlistment package and if I do re-enlist, I’ll eventually commission as an officer,” Trammell said.
Whether or not the Marine Corps is in his cards for the long haul, the values instilled and the lessons learned will remain a constant in Trammell’s life. As time passes he will continue to embody the values that made him a Marine and helped shape him into the master of his destiny.
“The Marine Corps has taught me to look in the mirror every day and strive to be the best I can be,” Trammell said. “Once you’ve decided who you want to be nobody can stop you; the only person who can stop you is you.”