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What I’ve Learned: Staff Sgt. Brandon Valentine

15 Sep 2014 | Lance Cpl. Olivia Day

Hometown: Columbus, Ga.

Interesting fact: Valentine is a singer and guitarist. Last year, he performed with Rascal Flats at the All-Star Salute to the Troops, presented by the Academy of Country Music.

>I like to play the guitar, watch college football and spend time with my wife and my little girl. Most of my time goes to my little girl, she is pretty much my life now.

>My daughter is almost 20 months old. We had her and then about seven months later, I deployed. When I came back she was a totally different person.

>I basically missed the ‘first everything.’ First words, birthday, steps, Christmas and Thanksgiving, I missed all of those things. When I left, she was crawling and when I got back, she was running.

>When I was deployed, we got the chance to skype a lot. It was funny because when I got back and got off the bus, she looked at me and said, “Daddy.” Developing our relationship even when I was deployed went pretty smoothly.

>I am a pretty goofy guy with my daughter. We have a good time and a strong relationship. I think she is more of a daddy’s girl now.

>She is wild. She is constantly bouncing off the walls and she is nonstop. At 20 months, she can jump into the pool and swim, which is pretty scary. My wife has to bring her to the pool at least three times a week now.

>I’d have to say she’s a well-balanced mix of my wife and me. I think she gets her brains from her mom and her wildness from me.

>When it comes to college football, I’m a University of Georgia fan. I have a Georgia ‘G’ tattooed on my foot.

>My favorite player on Georgia this year is Todd Gurley, He is a beast. He broke a lot of Georgia’s records in the first week of this season.

>I grew up as a Georgia fan. I lived three hours from the school, where I use to live, it’s right on the Alabama, Georgia line so you’re either a Georgia fan, or an Alabama fan.

>My wife and I are from the same town. We have been married almost nine years but when we first met, she didn’t really watch too much college football. She always said she was an Auburn fan but I fixed all of that.

>She’s a pretty hardcore Georgia fan now. She knows more about football than half of the guys who come over to watch. My daughter is also a Bulldogs fan, I have a video of her saying, “Go Dogs.”

>I have been playing guitar for about five or six years, I taught myself in Iraq. I bought a guitar off of a guy for 30 bucks. I taught myself about four chords and then went from there. If you know a couple of chords, you basically know thousands of songs.

>I have always been into music; I played piano for a little bit in high school. I also grew up playing the drums. My dad bought me a drum set when I was five.

>I was actually supposed to join the Marine Corps to play in the band. My dad was in the Army and when I told him, he was like, “Are you really going to join the Marine Corps to play in the band?”

>I made it through auditions and everything to join the band as percussion but I changed my mind last minute.

>Drums are actually my primary instrument but guitar is definitely my favorite. I never sang out in front of people or anything like that until I grabbed a guitar.

>I started out just banging on a drum set, not knowing what I was doing. As I got older, I got better. The more you do something, the better you’ll get. If you have an interest in something, you always try to do it better than the last time.

>I didn’t get bored with it or anything, it was just hard being in the Marine Corps and having a drum set in the barracks. All my friends would play guitar and it was something I was interested in learning.

>When I was in the barracks, my buddies would grab their guitars and I’d grab a bucket and some sticks and we’d play.

>I went on deployment and that’s when I finally decided to give the guitar a shot.

>I am left handed for everything but when I started to play guitar, I learned to play right handed.

>While I was in Afghanistan, I submitted a packaged for the first annual ‘Salute to the Troops’ in Las Vegas. At the time, I didn’t think I would ever get picked, I can’t even win scratch off tickets but I submitted any way.

>They flew my wife from Georgia and gave us a full weekend of concerts. I also got to attend the Academy of Country Music Awards. Our seats were on the floor and eight rows back. After that, I got to perform with Rascal Flatts in front of about 19,000 people.

>It was crazy because about three seats over was Tim McGraw and Miranda Lambert but it was all free for us. Anyone you could think of, when it comes to country music was there. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

>After that, I went to career course but while I was there I got an offer to perform in Daytona, (Fla.) and open up for Easton Corbin on my own.

>I’m getting out next year and I definitely want to get a band together. I just want to get a group of guys that like to play music and kill some time together.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms