AR RAMADI, Iraq -- The terrorist attacks on the United States that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 made many Americans stop and think about the freedoms and rights that we enjoy everyday. For some, the attacks made them realize that these freedoms come with a price. Zachary Kother was one of those people.
Private Kother, an infantryman with Black Platoon, Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, decided that after Sept. 11 he wanted to give something back.
“Ever since the attacks on my country, I felt I needed to give something, to do something for my country,” said the 25-year-old from Mechanicsburg, Ill. “I was pushed into electrical work by my family, but I decided to serve my country.”
Both his father and grandfather are electricians, and initially disapproved of his the decision, but Kother found his own path in the Marine Corps.
“I was a union electrician, a second-year apprentice making a lot more money then than I am now,” Kother said. “It was an easy decision for me to make, the Marine Corps was something I’ve always wanted to do. (My father and grandfather) weren’t happy about it at first, they didn’t understand why I wanted to leave my job and go to war. After a while though, they approved and now they support me 100 percent.”
His grandfather was the first to understand Kother’s decision to enlist, he said.
“Both my grandfathers were in the military, one in the Navy and one in the Marine Corps, so it wasn’t like I was the first in my family,” he said.
Despite his skilled background in electrical work, Kother chose to become an infantryman in the Marine Corps.
“If I was going to be in the service, I decided that I wanted to be in the action,” he said. “That’s why I picked the Marine Corps and to be in the infantry.”
Another reason he picked the Marine Corps was to make sure he did his part in the war on terrorism. This included a desire to deploy and see life in a combat zone.
“I want to go out on patrols more, I want to do my job,” said the Tri-City High School graduate. “I believe in what we are doing here, fighting so that the Iraqi people will know what freedom is. I love what I am doing.”
The only wish he had was that more American’s knew the good things the military is doing, especially in places like Iraq, which are often depicted as hopeless countries filled with death and despair.
“I wish more people could see what we’re doing here, the good we are doing for these people,” he said. “I think anyone who is thinking about joining should. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.”
Looking back, he says it was the best decision he ever made, and says he found something in Corps he never had in electrical work – fulfillment.
“Being a Marine gives me a sense of fulfillment I’ve always lacked,” he said “For me, it fills a void I’ve always had, it feels great.”