CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Every Marine at some point in their military career is asked why they decided to become a member of “America’s 911 Force in Readiness.”
There are many answers to that question, and every person who makes the decision to stand among “The Few” has their own unique story. For one Marine currently serving with C Company, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6, his story revolves around his daughters.
Lance Cpl. Daniel S. Phillips, a 23-years-old father of two from Athens, Texas, made the decision to enlist into the Marines after the birth of his first daughter, Morgan, two years ago.
Phillips’s childhood and life through high school was nothing spectacular to say the least, he said, but like most parents, Phillips didn’t want his daughters to grow up like he did. He wanted his daughters to be prepared for their futures.
“Growing up was rough for me,” said Phillips, a heavy machinery operator and welder with the battalion. “I don’t want my daughters to share the same childhood I had. I’ll do everything I can to make sure they don’t.”
Before joining the Corps, Phillips worked a few welding jobs around the Dallas area. He also worked on an oilrig until he began to grow tired of living from paycheck to paycheck. When he discovered he could maintain a steady job and paycheck while serving his country in the Marines, Phillips decided it would be the best thing for his family, he said.
“It was too rough bouncing back and forth with jobs,” Phillips explained. “When we had Morgan it just got rougher. I knew I had to find a solution.”
Phillips enlisted for a job in the engineers in order to put his skills with welding and operating heavy machinery to use. All along he was thinking of the benefits his daughters could reap in the future.
Phillips said he plans to stay in the Corps for around 10 years. He doesn’t know if he’ll stay in any longer, but he knows the longer he stays in the more benefits he will be able to reap. The shadow of a life of struggle looms large in the back of his mind.
“I don’t want to be stuck with nothing four or five years after I get out,” He explained. “If one day my girls want to go on a vacation somewhere, I want to be able to just pack up and take them.”
Phillips’ fellow Marines said he shows how dedicated he is to supporting his family through his work and attitude.
“Phillips is not only outstanding at his job operating the ‘dozer,” explained Sgt. Arnold J. Nass, C Company’s 27-year-old heavy equipment operations chief. “He also goes beyond that and get jobs done that have nothing to do with his.”
Phillips said he is successful at what he does because of traits he learned from his daughters.
“Having kids teaches you patience,” Phillips explained. “They also teach you to take responsibility. I don’t know where I would be at without them.”
The lessons parenting teach about the responsibility one has to those who depend on him translate extremely easily to the rigors of life as a Marine. The Corps is a team environment and an extended family; leathernecks like Phillips who are determined to do their level best for their blood family can be depended upon to do the same for their Marine Corps family.