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Cpl. Clayton R. Sargent, wire Non-Commissioned Officer, Headquarters Company, 7th Marine Regiment, has been in the Marine Corps for 3 1/2 years. He is currently studying to be an [emergency medical technician] and hopes to be a firefighter if he doesn't re-enlist.(Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I've Learned: Clayton R. Sargent

4 Feb 2015 | Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

I just recently got into wood working and carpentry. My dad has a small business and I kind of picked up everything from him. I’ve been doing it for about two years. I started making furniture; I made a gun cabinet, a kitchen island, end tables, signs and shelves.

Hopefully, when I retire, I can really get into it, because I don’t have enough time to do it full time.

I really like how you take something and you envision in your head how you want it and then you put the time into making something with your hands. Something you can be proud of and look at and say, ‘I put the time into this, and this is the finished product.’ It just calms me down. It’s kind of a way to get away from the stress of the day.

The first piece I made was a gun cabinet. I was at home for Christmas leave about two years ago. My dad was working a lot but he had a client that really wanted a gun cabinet made. So I kind of picked up some tools and made it and it turned out really well. So it kind of just started from there. That’s kind of when I knew that I was going to be passionate about it. After that gun cabinet, I was hooked.

I like the sanding and finishing part, that’s my favorite part. The building part is cool, but you can’t really sit back and enjoy it as much because you have to stay focused on what you’re doing. But you when you get in there sanding or finishing your mind wanders and everything kind of just flows and you’re pretty much done after that.

What I would really like to get into is using solid hand tools and not using any screws or nails or any kind of machines. That’s like expert level that takes a little while and a lot of practice, so hopefully I can get to that point one day.

My dad is pretty busy and it’s time consuming, so to meet client demands he has to have power tools and things of that nature just to keep up with people and keep up with orders and stuff like that.

It’s pretty much out of his garage. They have a little shop in our home town that they sell stuff out of, that’s pretty much like a walk in store. He builds everything in his garage, he’ll load up his trailer real quick and go to swap meets and meat markets to sell his stuff. He’ll get hit up on Facebook. It’s pretty much just word of mouth.

I’ve been in for three and a half years.

I wanted something different. I kind of looked at all my friends and I saw the direction they were going, and I wanted to branch out and see the world. I’ve seen parts of the world, and I just wanted to get a change of pace.

I have a lot of family members that were in the Marine Corps and the Army and the Navy. It’s just something that we looked up to as kids and pursued as we got older.

I have a younger sister and I grew up with my cousins. We were really close, we grew up in the same house and we’re all a year apart. My oldest cousin, he was in the Army and then the middle one, he’s a Marine and the youngest is in the Army as well. So it’s pretty crazy how that all worked out.

We looked up to my grandmother’s brother. He was killed in Vietnam, and he was a Marine. He was definitely someone to model yourself after.

My wife and I get out and go around. We find local things to do. The culture of Twentynine Palms, I really respect it. Once you start learning about the culture and the people, and the steps that were taken to make this town what it is, you grow to respect all that. We like finding different stories and different places to kind of just add on to our experience here.

The most memorable thing, I’d have to say, is the camaraderie that you get. You really don’t find that anywhere else. You sit back and think about the people that you meet and the friends that you make. Those are the guys you’re going to stay in contact with forever, especially if you throw a deployment in the mix. You don’t forget those things.

For a while, wood working was all I would think about, just trying to gather as much knowledge as I could about it and trying different techniques.

The time that you put into wood working, or any hobby that you might have, I think the patience and the finished product go hand in hand. If you’re patient as a Marine and you do the right things, those all play out in the end. You’re going to look back and that’s something you’re going to be proud of.

We’ve been married for three years. I think my wife has definitely influenced a lot of choices because she’s always there in the back of my mind, especially with a son on the way. I have to provide for them.

I’m in school right now taking an [emergency medical technician] course. I started in January; it’s a semester long and I’ll be a certified EMT at the end of it.

I wanted to make myself competitive, whether I’m staying in or getting out. I’ve always been interested in the health care environment, and I just feel like everyone should know basic triage of some sort. Just having some kind of basic medical knowledge is what I wanted to pursue.

I think the biggest influence would definitely be Sarah, my wife. We talk about the things that we’re going to do as far as career paths and the future. You definitely have to look back and make sure that your family is taken care of first and foremost.

I would say every Marine that I’ve met has been influential in some way. Something I learned early on is that you just kind of take bits and pieces off people. I’ve always done that just kind of bits and pieces of everyone and apply them whenever the time arises.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms