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Danielle E. Casco, range safety officer, Range Management Development Division, is a Marine veteran and has worked for RCU for nearly 10 years. Casco has a love of animals, nature and her adopted elephant, Billie. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I’ve Learned: Danielle E. Casco

10 Mar 2016 | Story by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - I grew up in Albuquerque, N.M. with my brother and my mom. I joined the Marine Corps when I was 18-years-old after I graduated high school.

I joined because I didn’t want to go to college. I was raised with the mentality that you have to give back to your country in some way and be a productive member of society. I chose this branch because the Marine Corps had the extreme energy I was looking for.

I liked everything about it. The camaraderie, the uniforms, the attitude. The Corps is better than the rest and it shows.

I served for 5 years. I wanted to be an air traffic controller but I was placed in direct air support instead.

My first duty station was Okinawa, Japan. I was there for two and a half years before I received orders to the Combat Center’s Range Control Unit.

One of the things that was really big for me while I was in was being a good leader. It was important to me because I received really good leadership from my [non-commissioned officers]. I made sure my Marines felt like they were being taken care of and that they weren’t stretched too thin and that mentality stayed with me.

Being a good leader means you’re taking care of someone and they know they’re being taken care of. It’s important to have that.

I think that was one of the hardest things for me to let go of when I got out. As a civilian, even if you do care about people you really have no effect on their life. Whereas in the military, you can care about them and help them advance to the next level of their life.

When I got out, I was gone for about 10 months and then my [officer in charge] called me to let me know about some job openings at Range Control. That’s how I ended up back here.

I help support the Combat Center because I’m part of a system that helps facilitate the training Marines conduct.

My job is to be on the radio and make sure the ranges are available for units to use as well as ensure everything goes smoothly while training is being conducted.

Working at Range Control I’ve learned a lot as a person, a leader and a follower.

On my free time, I like to walk my dogs and feed my chickens. I also like rock climbing, seeing new places and just being outdoors in general.

I appreciate the noise of the outdoors. Whether it’s the wind blowing through the trees, the sounds the animals make, or the dirt moving under your feet. When you’re outside there are no restrictions and it’s always new. If you go somewhere one day then go to the same place the next day, it could be completely different.

I’ve always been on the move. I’m not exactly settled because I always want to see more.

I like listening to people because I enjoy hearing their stories. When you go to new places you meet different kinds of people.

I’m a humanitarian and in my life I’m learning that being a humanitarian encompasses a lot of things. Anything that is new to me is interesting, anything someone thinks about is interesting and if someone creates something I want to see it. I just like people and what they can do.

I don’t really have one person that I would credit my growth to, just a lot of people that I’ve spent a lot of time with. Over the years I’ve learned that if I put my mind to something I can get it done no matter what.

My girlfriend, Shannon, has probably had the biggest influence on my personal life. She’s helped me learn to reflect.

I think my purpose is to be a caring person. I aspire to be happy and I hope that after I leave someone’s life they leave feeling like they mean something, because they do.

If I could give advice to someone it would be, you never have to settle because there’s always a choice. That’s been a huge life lesson for me and I don’t think a lot of people realize that.

Something I’ve carried with me from the Marine Corps is my drive. I’ve learned that no matter how nasty it gets, you have to keep going and that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms