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Cpl. Holly Justus, field radio operator, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, enjoys baking as a way to pass the time and getting to know new people. Since she began baking in April she has made approximately 15 cakes, six dozen batches of cookies, six batches of brownies and blueberry bread. She gives away what she bakes for others to enjoy.

Photo by Pfc. Levi Schultz

What I've Learned: Holly Justus

9 Jul 2015 | Pfc. Levi Schultz Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

I’m a radio operator with Tactical Training Exercise Control Group and have been in the Marine Corps for about three years.

I grew up in a nice neighborhood in North Central of Dallas, in suburbia. Through work I ended up in a bad environment.

One of my reasons for joining was to get away from a bad crowd. The Marine Corps provided me an opportunity to start over.

I have a little brother who is 20-years-old living back home. Growing up together, the challenges that we faced made us grow close.

He has considered joining the Air Force but is waiting until he finishes college. I feel like my decision to join the military may have helped inspire him to consider doing the same.

My father was a Marine and was a significant influence on my decision to join. He was proud of his time in the Marine Corps and I wanted to have that as well.

I enjoy baking; I picked it up as a hobby when I arrived here in April. What got me into it was the fact that I wanted something I could do while I was hanging out in the barracks.

Previously I was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Foster in Okinawa and moved to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton for a month before I got transferred here.

I like to bake all sorts of cakes, cookies and brownies. Most of the time, I give what I bake away to [whomever] wants it. More often than not it goes to the duty.

It’s a great way to get to know new people. Offering someone a cake or cookies can be a great icebreaker.

It’s really awesome to be able to bake for Marines who can’t go home on holidays or their birthdays. I know they really appreciate it and that means a lot.

Just like most things, when learning how to bake you mess up a lot. You won’t always make a recipe right the first time and small mistakes can end up in disaster. It’s important you learn from your mistakes and move on.

It takes a lot of patience and time to become good at the craft and can become frustrating at times. Don’t become discouraged when something doesn’t turn out right.

Seeing someone else bake something is a great way to learn. I’ve mostly taught myself through watching YouTube videos and baking shows.

As long as what I bake makes somebody else happy, then I’m happy. That’s what is most important to me. Seeing someone else enjoy what I’ve made is a great feeling.

Baking distracts me from things that are bothering me and helps me to stay positive. When I’m feeling down, it helps me to keep my mind off the thing that is troubling me.

One of the things I’ve grown to like about the Marine Corps the most is the family and sense of camaraderie.

I enjoy being able to walk outside the barracks and hang out with people. More often than not they accept you pretty fast.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms