MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Lance Cpl. Justin Spurrier was in for an eye-opening shock the summer after his senior year of high school. It was one unlike any he’d seen in his town with a population of 12,000, until he undertook the challenge to join America’s elite fighting force, the United States Marine Corps.
“I couldn’t really say why I joined the Marines,” said the 21-year-old Green River, Wyo., native. “I saw the recruiting commercials and thought it would be cool.”
In August 2004, the former varsity tennis player with Green River High School attended recruit training, and subsequently, schooling aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, Calif., to become a field radio operator.
Then a trained communications Marine, Spurrier would see a world outside his hometown rife with a variety of cultures and individuals. His appetite for adventure would be fulfilled shortly after graduating from his military occupational specialty schooling.
“I spent a few months in Okinawa doing training with my unit,” explained the radio operator with Battery R, 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment. “The beaches there were amazing, and the water was as clear as day. It was like something on the Discovery channel.”
While overseas, Spurrier practiced skills such as calling for artillery fire against simulated enemy targets, maintaining his unit’s various rugged field radios and communications gear, and setting up OE-254 antenna arrays for their artillery battery. Nevertheless, he was allotted time off to see their host nation’s attractions and natural wonders.
It has not always been fun and games though, Spurrier said. However, the challenges are what he likes best about his job.
“Right now, we’re in the field training about every other week,” he continued. “We go out to the training ranges around Lejeune and practice setting up in positions, firing, and moving (the artillery guns) from position to position.
“I kind of like the hardships we go through though because you share the experience with other people and grow closer to them because of it,” he added. “I know some of the friends I’ve made will be there for me for a long time.”
Spurrier added that his battery is also preparing for a deployment to Iraq, where they will act as a provisional infantry unit. They will patrol the urban battlefield on the hunt for terrorists and assist Iraqi Security Forces providing security for their citizens.
Spurrier will continue honing his communications skills despite what his unit’s primary responsibility may be because without communications assets, a unit’s war fighting efficiency is crippled.
“It’s rewarding to be the unit’s comm tech because I know I play a big role when it comes to the efficiency of the battery,” he continued.
Now, he looks back with pride on what he’s done and the missions he’s soon to undertake in the Middle East, realizing the Corps changed his life for the better.
“In Wyoming, most everyone is small-town kind of people, so it was nice to see what the rest of the world was like,” he stated. “It’s definitely been an eye-opening experience for me to be introduced to a bunch of people from so many backgrounds. There are definitely lots of benefits to being in the Marine Corps, but it’s not an easy life. You give up a lot for it.”