Sacramento, Calif., native experiences more than just combat

30 Sep 2005 | Cpl. Shane Suzuki

Some men are meant for the military. The draw of patriotism and the chance to fight for their country lead them to their local recruiter and the opportunity to serve. Private First Class William Shaw, a mortar man with Platoon Black, Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, decided during high school that the Marine Corps would be his way to serve.

“I always wanted to join the military, ever since I was a little kid,” said the 18-year-old from Sacramento, Calif. “I thought the Marine Corps would be a good way to start my life after high school. The experience and training seemed to be what I wanted.”

The experiences he wanted, the chance to deploy and see combat action, led him to become an infantryman.

“I chose the infantry because I wanted to fight and see combat,” he said. “I wanted to do the real work of the military. I figured with the war going on, if I picked infantry I would see combat quickly. That’s a big reason I joined.”

After completing recruit training and the School of Infantry (West,) Shaw was stationed at Marine Corps Ground Air Combat Center in 29 Palms, Calif. Once there, he began training with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment for the upcoming deployment to Iraq.

“We did a lot of (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) training,” said the Union Mine High School graduate. “We all went to a lot of job specific schools and cross trained in other infantry jobs. I think we were really prepared.”

Now that he is in Iraq and been on combat patrols, Shaw says that things here are different than what he expected.

“Over here, it’s a lot better then I thought it would be,” he said. “The townspeople seem to know what’s going on, that we are here to help them build a democracy.”

While the work he puts in often means 20-hour days, Shaw says it’s worth it. The experiences he will take with him are priceless.

“It’s hot, sweaty, dirty, dusty – but worthwhile,” he said. “I’d hate to be sitting at home wondering what it’s like in Iraq while watching the war on television. The fact that I’m here doing it, experiencing it, knowing what it’s really like, that makes it worth it.”