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2nd Lt. Zachary Standeford, platoon commander, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 7th Marine Regiment, focused on athletics as much as he did academics while in high school and college, pushing himself to do better as a student and as a team captain. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz

What I've Learned: Zachary Standeford

29 Jul 2016 | Lance Cpl. Dave Flores Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

I was born in New London Conn., and moved to Plainfield, Conn. in middle school.

When I was in high school I was very busy with sports, such as football, indoor track, basketball and golf. Even though sports kept me busy, I always put my academics first and maintained my spot in the Honor Society for good grades.

Football and the Marine Corps are very similar and different from each other at the same time. When I played football, as a team captain I looked more inward, trying to make myself better. I did care about my players but sometimes not as much as myself. Now that I am a platoon commander, I put my Marines before myself. I give them as much knowledge as possible so we can execute the mission smoothly.

I always try and take the time to get to know the people I work with. When I take an hour out of my day to sit down and learn about my Marines’ lives, it’s because I want them to feel important. When you know your platoon and they understand that they are a key to the success of the mission, it’s like cogs in a machine working in perfect unison.

My father was my biggest role model. He showed me how much you could get to know someone just by being personable with them. He told me that people can go their entire lives without genuinely knowing people except those immediately in front of them.

Becoming a Marine was always a goal of mine, even before college. I wanted to enlist in the Corps right out of high school, but my parents wanted me to consider college.

I attended Norwich University in Vermont. It was a private military college so I still had that discipline and military presence. Attending that university shaped me into who I am today; it provided me opportunities to develop my leadership style. If I went to a state school, I don’t think I would have been able to focus as much.

Going to Officer Candidate School felt like a culminating event for me since I was at a military college. It felt good to finally be able to wear the uniform and receive my eagle, globe and anchors. It wasn’t until Infantry Officer’s Course where I transitioned from college student to officer.

I chose the Combat Center because I know I can maximize the amount of training here compared to anywhere else. Being a New England native, where I’ve spent more time in the cold than heat in my life; it has been a harder transition. It was like putting a polar bear in the desert.

I feel like becoming a platoon commander for a reinstated battalion is an honor. We are able to mold our leadership styles with the new Marines of 3/4.

Within the next few years, I want to always have my Marines ready for any clime and place. Looking farther ahead; I love to teach. I would like to be an instructor at the Infantry Officers’ Course and then be able to return to the fleet as a company commander.

After the Corps, I want to be a forensic psychology professor back in New England. I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology while I was at Norwich. I want to continue to get my master’s in forensic psychology while I am an officer.

When I’m not working, I’m an outdoorsy person. I love fishing, hiking and exploring my surroundings. I don’t think there is such thing as a boring place, only boring people. I want to take advantage of the West Coast, since this is my first time in California.

I am always trying to better myself, to be the best son, friend, peer or even commander. Even outside of uniform, I am always trying to learn more to expand my knowledge on occupation field or the hobbies I have.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms