AR RAMADI, Iraq -- People join the military for many reasons. Some join for adventure, some for college money, some for travel and some join for the experience and chance to serve their country. Lance Cpl. Brandon Holland, a 20-year-old from Missoula, Mont., decided to enlist and become a Marine for all those reasons and more.
Holland, a heavy machine gunner with Platoon Black, Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, grew up in Montana and always knew that the world was a bigger place than his home state.
“I always wanted to join,” the Hellgate High School graduate said.” I had never been outside of Montana before. I wanted to see more of the United States, visit other countries and meet new people. I also come from a pretty military-heavy family.”
Although he studied welding and small-machine repair in high school, Holland never considered being anything but an infantryman in the Corps.
“It fit me better than any other job,” he said. “I couldn’t see myself behind a desk or working on a radio. The recruiter told me I could pick any job I wanted and I chose infantry.”
Arriving at Recruit Depot San Diego July 26, 2004, Holland soon found himself training for his first deployment to Iraq. After finishing recruit training and the School of Infantry (West,) he was stationed at Marine Corps Air Ground Training Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.
“We did a lot of training to get ready for this deployment,” Holland said. “We trained as CAAT platoons, practiced a lot of tactics and did a lot of (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) training. Now that we are here, I realize how much of that we actually use. I think it really prepared us for what we are seeing and doing here.”
Ever since landing in Iraq, Holland believes that the Marine’s time here will help the Iraqi people realize something that almost none of them have ever known – freedom.
“I think we are doing a good job here,” he explained. “When we go on patrol you can see it. The kids all wave, they love us. When we see the kids, it makes my day. I think we are doing good things for these people.”
The biggest difference between being in Iraq and back home he says, is when a Marine makes a mistake.
“Back in the states, you could mess up or do something wrong and it was no big deal, you just got yelled at,” he said. “But here, a whole new level of perfection is required. We have to be ever vigilant.”
Although he can’t wait to come home, he is glad he made the decision to join the Corps and especially glad he was deployed.
“I’m having the time of my life,” he said. “It has its moments when I wish I was home, but I would never change my decision to become a Marine.”