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Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

3/4 engineer loses a lot to join the fight

16 Jul 2005 | Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr. 2nd Marine Division

After watching the twin towers collapse from his college classroom in Tennessee, Andrew T. Ledbetter decided to join the fight, but first he had a lot of work to do. Standing 6’2” and weighing approximately 300 pounds at the time, Ledbetter needed to lose almost 100 pounds to meet his goals. “I wanted to do it for my health, my upcoming marriage, and after Sept. 11, happened, the Marine Corps became a motivation,” said Cpl. Ledbetter, a native of Rickman, Tenn. With only his personal motivations to help him along, Ledbetter set out to lose the weight through exercise and a strict diet. He began running seven days a week, conducted high intensity workouts at the gym, and started a low fat diet. “I had encouragement from family and friends,” said Ledbetter, a graduate of Livingston Academy. “But I didn’t use a personal trainer or anything like that.” After seven months of intense training and his strict diet of chicken, tuna, fruits and vegetables, Ledbetter had lost 125 pounds and was ten pounds below the maximum weight allowed to join the Marine Corps. Ledbetter attributes most of this achievement to God, and a pact made before his journey to become healthier. “Before I started, I prayed to God and said ‘If I’m supposed to join the Marine Corps, you have to help me,’” said Ledbetter. “Obviously I’m supposed to be here.” Ledbetter is currently serving his first deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom in Fallujah as a team leader with 3rd platoon, Company D, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, which is attached to 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. Although mentally and spiritually trying, Ledbetter feels his past difficulties have prepared him for the task at hand. “I feel like I’ve matured more because of it,” he said. “It definitely prepared me for the hardships of deployment.” Ledbetter continues to work diligently through the long hours and hot sun of the Iraqi desert, driven to keep the shape he worked so hard to attain. “I still physically train every day.” Emboldened by his great accomplishment and laden with the natural confidence of a Marine, Ledbetter looks to meet all of his future challenges head on. “I realized that if I can do what I did, I can do pretty much anything,” he said.