MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- I’m from the foothills of Colorado. Growing up, I was probably your typical case that you might hear. Poor kid, not really much going for me financially as far as my family.
I had a friend named Joe, who joined the Marine Corps back when we were seniors in high school. Now looking at me, I’m 5’4” a whole 128 lbs soaking wet, just pure motivation. We were at lunch talking and the Marine Corps came up. One of our friends said, “Avery, you couldn’t do it.” So I asked Joe to take me to the recruiter.
Not only did I finish boot camp, I ended up getting meritoriously promoted and finished as squad leader. So I came back and I told everybody, “I told you I could do it.”
Honestly I’ve been hooked ever since. I knew I was in the right environment.
I’ve always been involved in sports. Being involved gave me something to do and I found that same sort of team concept in the Marine Corps.
I was a wrestler, that was my thing. I was the motivated 110 pounder out there hooking and jabbing. Wrestling to me is the same concept as the Marine Corps, I think that’s why I got so hooked on the Marines.
When you wrestle, it’s just you and the other person out there on the mat. So if you lose, you can’t blame it on anyone else, and it’s a very humbling experience. By the same token, if you win that’s the most rewarding feeling ever.
All the different experiences I’ve had while in the Marine Corps are what have kept me so long.
My first duty station was here with [3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion]. I remember gearing up to go to Okinawa, and then being told at the last moment I wasn’t going. I was crushed. After that I found out about [Marine Security Guard] duty. After getting accepted into MSG, my first duty station was Pakistan, and I thought, this is the Marine Corps, because I started seeing stuff.
As a young corporal in Islamabad, Pakistan, the amount of decisions and trust that was instilled in me was incredible. I mean, I became a staff sergeant and I felt like I lost some of that responsibility. That’s something I’ve never forgotten, the level of trust that we created amongst ourselves.
I have three kids. They’re 15, 11 and 5. I think growing up in the Marine Corps has taught my children a lot. Moving often has taught them how to be social and something I’ve tried to instill in them is the importance of hard work.
It’s important to give your all and never stop setting goals for yourself. Personal and professional, whether it’s in the Marine Corps or after, always try to better yourself.
The higher I got the more I’ve learned that being a Marine is about being in the business of people. If I take care of my Marines, they’ll get the mission done. A good leader learns how to take mission accomplishment and troop welfare and make them linear. If you’re taking care of your Marines, the mission will always get done.
I didn’t attain my success because of anything that I did alone. It’s about the Marines under me, you know. That’s how I got here and I’m truly in debt to lots of Marines.