FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Many Marines enlist in the Corps for the challenge, the title or to get their life on track, but few say their decision was based on divine intervention.
Lance Cpl. Bradley W. Havenar, a 21-year-old squad automatic weapon gunner with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment, is one of those few.
Growing up in Midwest City, Okla., where his grandfather was a minister and his family devout Christians, Havenar found himself in church every Sunday of his adolescent life.
As Havenar matured however, beginning with his years at Carl Albert High School, he found other ways to spend his time on Sundays.
“When I started making my own decisions, I spent less time at church,” he explained. “I didn’t lose my religion though.”
After graduating from high school, he attended Rose State College, also in his hometown.
During his college days as a full time student, Havenar split his free time between his job at a local furniture store and partying with hometown friends.
It was during this semester and a half of school, work and parties, that he realized something wasn’t right.
“I partied way too much. One night I decided I’d had enough,” he said, “I felt something needed to change.”
That night, Havenar knelt down in prayer, hoping for guidance and direction for his future. He thought of changing majors and looking at new jobs, but couldn’t decide what he was meant to do.
“While I was praying, I just threw in, ‘God, even if it’s joining the Marine Corps,’” Havenar said.
Much to his astonishment, his prayer was answered the next morning, when he awoke to the ringing of his phone. On the line was a Marine Corps recruiter, offering him the opportunity he’d been looking for.
“I had not received a call from a recruiter since high school,” Havenar explained. “When I hung up the phone, I was like….Wow!”
He wasted no time following up on the response to his prayer. Just 15 days after receiving the call, he was on his way to Marine Boot Camp.
During his recruit training, Havenar served as the platoon’s Christian lay reader and had little trouble coping with the hardships of recruit life.
“Never did I question my decision to become a Marine,” Havenar said.
He has now served for two years in the Marine Corps and deployed twice to Operation Iraqi Freedom since graduating from boot camp. Havenar looks at all of his experiences with the Corps as a positive influence on his life.
“Being a Marine and being here has definitely set me up for success in the future,” he said.
Looking back to his time in college and the experiences gathered from his service to Corps and country, Havenar sees his enlistment as the right decision.
“It’s definitely been the answer to my prayer,” Havenar said.