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Cpl. Eric Fletcher Jr., administrative personnel, IPAC, Headquarters Battalion, studies automotives at Copper Mountain College and is learning skills that enable him to work on his beloved Mustang. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo/ Released)

Photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I’ve Learned: Eric Fletcher Jr.

16 Sep 2016 | Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

>> I’m from Americus, Ga. It’s a small town in the country side. Growing up, there were a lot of animals outside, a lot of running around and doing nothing. There’s nothing to do unless you make something to do, so we were always busy doing anything.

>> We’d play a lot of sports like football and basketball. I came from a single-parent household, even though my grandparents lived right next door. My siblings and I worked odd jobs here and there to help out.

>> My four siblings and I grew up right next to my grandma and step-grandfather and I also had my granddad and step-grandma across town.

>> Growing up, we were always together. We would eat at my grandma’s house and during the holidays we would all spend time together; it wasn’t like we had to go far.

>> I have cousins who aren’t even my cousins and sisters who aren’t even my sisters; I’ve just known them my whole life. Everyone was like family especially growing up where I lived. It brings adventure to life because there’s always something different to do and someone to go to if you need anything.

>> Growing up in a tight-knit family was kind of stressful, especially as a middle child. The oldest sibling would get away with this and the youngest sibling would get away with that and you’re just in the middle.

>> It was also beneficial. If you were slacking with one thing you had others to help you and with them being family, everything came from a place of love.

>> When I was younger, my grandma always got on me the most. Half of my life we would argue a lot. As I got older, she mentored me and she would always help me whenever I needed it.

>> My grandma and my grandfather both molded me into who I am today. They really had a big impact because my mom worked all the time.

>> My mom worked from six in the morning to six at night, and she still does. She rarely did things for herself and seeing her work so hard made me want to work harder to limit the things she had to do.

>> Everything that my grandparents and mother did contributed to me anting to be the best in everything I do. You can’t always be the best, but you can always strive.

>> In high school I ran cross-country and track. I also participated in wrestling so I was always busy.

>> Wrestling was my favorite sport because I accomplished a lot. I made it all the way to sectionals before I got put out. During my time wrestling I got a concussion and I also broke my shoulder.

>> I liked that you actually had to know it to win it. It wasn’t about strength like one may think. If you won, it was because you knew more than the other person.

>> I knew I wanted to join the military since the ninth grade but I wasn’t sure of which branch. Eventually I decided that I wanted to go into the Marine Corps.

>> Since I’m from a small town I wanted to be a part of something bigger; I wanted to be known. That’s what drove me throughout high school.

>> I had an uncle in the Marine Corps and my grandad was in the Army. I have cousins and siblings in the military.

>> The Marine Corps drew me in because of what you hear about them. The few, the proud; that’s why I chose the Marine Corps. Plus my uncle would talk so much trash to my grandad.

>> In my free time I like to run. It helps me clear my mind. When I’m back in Georgia I love going fishing. Even though it takes a while and you get frustrated, everyone loves fishing back home. Anything that involves the outdoors I love doing. Whether it’s hot or cold it doesn’t matter. I just feel so free.

>> Being stationed at the Combat Center feels the same as being back home. Aside from the fact that there’s no grass or trees it’s still the same concept. I know that in order for there to be something to do, I have to make something to do.

>> I like traveling out here. It’s calming to just drive my car and look at the sights.

>> I drive a Mustang. I like cars in general but Mustangs are my favorite car. A lot of people didn’t own them at home, so when I did see them it was just this cool-looking car.

>> When I was little, we lived close to the highway, and there was this red convertible that would drive by almost every day. The top was always down and it would always ride by and I would look at it and think “that is a nice car.”

>> When I got here I found a Mustang in Yucca Valley and I thought “this is it, this is destiny.” They’re American-made so they’re easy to fix and learn with.

>> I plan on making a career out of the Marine Corps. I like the stability the Marine Corps gives me. You already know what’s expected of you and there’s also the credibility. I’m a United States Marine; that carries a lot.

>> The lessons I learned playing sports have come back to help me now. In wrestling, you have to plan your meals throughout that week in order to stay in your weight class. It’s the same as maintaining the standards in the military.

>> If I was forced to retire from the Marine Corps I would definitely go back to Georgia and get me a little house. I would sort of retire but pick up something that I could do to stay busy. I would make sure to get a career and continue moving forward until it’s actually time to retire.

>> Something I’ve learned in the Marine Corps that will stick with me is that how you carry yourself is directly related to how people treat you. If you hold yourself to a higher standard you’ll be treated a certain way by other people.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms