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Pfc. Isaac Howard, administrative specialist, Headquarters Battalion, started wrestling when he was 8 and placed first in Illinois’ wrestling championship in 2010, his freshman year of high school.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I've Learned: Isaac Howard

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

I was originally born in Kansas City and I moved to Chicago, Ill. when I was 5 years old.

My mom is the second youngest of 13 children, my dad is the oldest of 4 so I come from a pretty large family.
Growing up I played football, wrestled and ran track.
I had a lot of energy as a kid so my parents enrolled me in sports. I started wrestling when I was in grade school because my dad signed me up for it, I didn’t start track and football until middle school.

I liked wrestling the most. With football it took me about a year to get used to the contact and then I fell in love with it. I didn’t like track for about the first year and a half, because I didn’t really like running but it paid off and I learned to love it too.

I liked football because it taught me how to portion out my meals, how to lose weight. Track helped me build my speed and endurance.

I love the competition in wrestling and there was a new move to learn every day. I grew as a person in different ways from doing each of those sports.

I think being fit and participating in sports prior to the Marine Corps helped a lot.

I received three scholarships for wrestling my senior year of high school but instead of going to college, I wanted to join the Marine Corps first and then pursue my athletic goals after.

The farthest that I’ve ever gotten in wrestling was my freshman year. I won state at 112 lbs., and I competed in a 7A division school.

I’d say the team aspect of being involved in sports is something that definitely helped me when it came to becoming a Marine. Teamwork is everything in the Marine Corps and in this organization, it just doesn’t start with the sergeant major or the general, it starts from the bottom up.
I joined the Marine Corps because I grew up in a military family. My uncle was in the Army, my sister did two enlistments in the Navy, and my step-dad served 24 years in the Marine Corps. I was always held to a high standard and I knew that when I got older I wanted to join the military and maintain that in my life.

I believe that the Marine Corps holds people to a higher standard. There’s something about earning that Eagle, Globe and Anchor that send chills down your spine. I think the Marine Corps is the best of all the branches and I wanted to be a part of that.

There are times when I miss wrestling, but every time I go home on leave, I go back to help my team, talk to my wrestling coaches and go to competitions.

I want to be a physical education teacher someday. I like working with kids and I want to be able to impart the importance of fitness and teamwork on the younger generation.

I had a football coach who was also my PE teacher in grade school and onward into high school, so he’s been my mentor for the majority of my life. Growing up, I always looked up to him.

I like to sing and I like to rap. I fell in love with rap when I was in second grade after I started writing poetry. My teacher sat down with me and taught me the basics of haikus and what the 14 syllables meant.

A lot of people think that poetry has to rhyme or be about certain things, but I think that poetry can be about anything. It is one of the best ways a person can express themselves, because there are so many things that you can put into poetry.

Poetry and rap come to me naturally; I’ll write whatever is on my mind. If someone gives me a topic then I’ll just write about it.

I listen to a lot of different music because I think it’s important to broaden your horizons, and not restrict yourself to one genre of music.

One thing I’ve learned so far is to never give up, and I will carry that with me wherever I go.

I would say my favorite thing about being a Marine is the bond that’s forged with the people you meet. It’s like joining a lifelong family.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms