CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
Most people want a job they can feel good about and a family who loves them, but balancing responsibilities at home and work can be challenging. A military career can make this task even more difficult, but one Ohio Marine seems to have found the secret to personal and professional happiness.
Samir S. Awadallah joined the enlisted ranks of the Marine Corps in 2006 to help others and serve an organization that matched his own ideals, like taking pride in himself and striving to be the best. Now known to his fellow Marines as Sgt. Awadallah, the 23-year-old Berlin Center, Ohio, native is the help desk chief for 2nd Marine Division (Forward) as well as a loving husband and the father of two daughters.
Awadallah manages the Marines who maintain the communications and information systems for the division.
“I love what I do. I love being a Marine, and I love being a father,” said Awadallah. “I make good money, and my family has great benefits.”Unfortunately Awadallah did not grow up with the same benefits he is now able to provide his family. He was raised in a single parent home by his mother who worked diligently to provide for her children and did not meet his farther until two years ago. Regardless, Awadallah grew up living an active, normal childhood … until misfortune struck.
In the eighth grade Awadallah’s name made him the target of fellow classmates’ cruelty following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001. But he didn’t let middle school keep him from growing into a caring person.
As a student at Berlin Center Western High School, Awadallah began to take Emergency Medical Technician classes at Youngstown State University during his junior and senior years. He also started building himself up as an athlete by playing for the high school football team.
After graduating high school, Awadallah decided being an EMT would not be enough for him to support his goals. Awadallah began to consider the Marine Corps as a better choice for a more secure future.
“I never took the (final EMT) test. I joined the Marine Corps instead,” said Awadallah. “I wanted to know that in the future I’d be able to take care of a family. I (also) wanted to join a branch of service that had the same ideals I have.”
Awadallah’s mother cried when her son first told her the news about his career choice. She had hoped Awadallah would be able to play sports and excel in a college environment, but was caught off guard by his sudden change from a medical career to the military. As Awadallah’s career has progressed, he has been able to rely on her support and the support of his family to help carry him forward.
“(My mom is) very supportive of what I do,” said Awadallah. “Just knowing that my family is there to support me takes a lot off my mind.”
Family has always been a core focus for Awadallah, particularly since he began building a family of his own. Working to balance his career and his life at home with his wife and two daughters has filled Awadallah’s life with both challenges and rewards.
Both of his daughters were born while Awadallah was on his second and third deployments.
“It was kind of upsetting knowing I couldn’t be there,” said Awadallah, “but it is what it is. Any good father should look back and regret that, but any good Marine would look back and understand. Whatever’s best for my family, I’m willing to sacrifice for it (and) I wouldn’t be where I am right now without the Marine Corps.”
Awadallah said he plans to stay in the Marine Corps as long as it continues to be the best thing for him and his family. He strives to one day be a sergeant major and is constantly working to make sure his work ethic and behavior reflect that. He is also currently taking off-duty education classes in legal studies to prepare for any opportunities that might come his way in the future.
“I know he has a lot of plans for the future,” said Gunnery Sgt. Aaron D. Varner, the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of the shop Awadallah works in. “He works with the staff sergeant we have to try to build on his skill set and, at the same time, he’s working with the younger Marines to build them up.”
The Newport News, Va., native is in charge of overseeing all the activities of the shop Awadallah works in and has been getting to know him over the last nine months. He is assigned as the data chief for the communications and information systems section, 2nd MarDiv (Fwd). In that time he has come to rely heavily on Awadallah for his mid-level management skills and the positive influence he has on the Marines beneath him.
“He’s been working hard and he’s not above asking for help,” said Varner. “He is a good Marine, and I would tell his mother she should be proud of her son.”
Awadallah explained he loves being a part of a brotherhood that is dedicated to protecting people and serving the United States. Even though he is not always able to physically be there to support his family, he explained that knowing it’s for a good reason and his family supports him 100 percent makes his service easier.
“It was definitely the right choice; I couldn’t see myself in any other uniform,” said Awadallah. “Everyone thinks back throughout their military career and thinks ‘wow, the things I could be doing,’ but I love the Marine Corps and it’s done a lot of great things for me and my family.”