Twentynine Palms -- Cpl. Joshua Chacon, videographer, Combat Camera, is a hiker and climber from the Chicago area and enjoys exploring Joshua Tree National Park. He hopes to reach the peak of the Sierra Nevada mountain range Mount Whitney, which is also the highest summit in the Contiguous United States.
I am from Carol Stream, Illinois a suburb Northwest of Chicago. My [Military Occupational Specialty] is videographer and I work at the Combat Camera office.
I was stationed on Camp Foster in Okinawa, Japan before coming to Twentynine Palms. Some of the cool places I have been are Thailand, Nepal, the Philippines, Australia and Iwo Jima.
In my opinion, in Japan there was not a lot to do on base, so hiking was a good way to get out and do something.
My sergeant and I were close and we would go out hiking. We would go and find waterfalls and explore random places.
I’m happy that Joshua Tree National Park is here. I can continue climbing and exploring while being stationed out here in Twentynine Palms.
Lately my friend Charles and I have gone out and explored the national park. Our next challenge is going to be Mount Whitney in Sequoia [Kings Canyon] National Park.
I started out small using the rock climbing machines at the gym on base and climbed smaller hills and cliffs. I want to keep practicing to the point that I feel comfortable climbing the big mountains.
Usually I free climb smaller rocks without equipment but ultimately I want to use ropes. It’s scary and awesome at the same time. If I break a bone im not going to stop, its something I enjoy and I’m going to keep doing.
As Marines, we are very competitive and we have the attitude that we can accomplish just about anything. I can safely say that rock climbing has checked that attitude more than once. It’s probably the scariest fun I have in my free time.
I ran cross country in high school and my coach taught us a lot. Things like camaraderie and teamwork. So when I joined the Marine Corps I saw many similarities between my team and the military.
I credit two people with my success, the first is my father. He used to take me with him to work when I was little and he taught me the value of working hard to be successful and earning everything.
He works as a truck driver and he always told me “If you don’t want to work this hard, become educated.”
He has always pushed me to be better.
The second person I credit is a Marine who passed away; Cpl. Sara Medina. To say she supported me a lot during my Marine Corps career is an understatement.
When I first met her we were very distant, but she was from Chicago and that was pretty cool meeting someone else from my home area who I could relate to.
When I was at a low spot in my career she helped me pick myself up. She showed me the true meaning of what it is to be a Marine non-commissioned officer. I wouldn’t trade meeting her with anything else.
My time in the Marine Corps has taught me to be grateful for the things that I have. I’ve visited places where people struggle to get one bucket of clean drinking water and I’m glad to live in a country where we don’t have to live that way.