Staff Sergeant Henry

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Interview with Staff Sergeant Henry

Interviewed by Lynne Payne
Marion High School

Interviewed on May 14, 2003
at the Marines Recruiting Office
In Marion, Indiana

LP: Today is the 14th of May, and this is the beginning of an interview with Staff Sergeant Henry at the Marines Recruiting office at 2716 South Western Ave. Marion, Indiana. Staff Sergeant Henry was born on August 9, 1975. My name is Lynne Payne, and I will be the interviewer. Staff Sergeant Henry, could you state for the recording what war you were involved in and what branch of the service you were in?

SSH: The United States Marine Corp. The Kosovo Campaign in 1999.

LP: What was your rank?

SSH: Sergeant

LP: Where did you serve?

SSH: In Kosovo, Iraq, and Kuwait

LP: What type of work did you perform while in the Marines?

SSH: Every marine has a military occupation specialty, which is your MOS, your job in the Marine Corp, and I had a 3533, which is a LVS Operator, basically a semi, Motor T Driver, driving MV’s, 3531, a 3537 now, which is my MOS, being a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corp is Motor T Chief. I also was assigned the 5th Force Recon, in Okinawa, Japan, and that MOS is 0321. Before the time that I came in, I was a Marine Security Guard in Lima, Peru, and Tanzania, Africa. Now that I am a recruiter here in Marion, Indiana, my MOS is an 8411, which is a basic recruiter.

LP: Where did you serve?

SSH: I started out in 1995 in Quantico, Virginia. I left there and went to Lima, Peru, and then Tanzania, Africa, which, as we all know, is the one that blew up back in 1998. I served also in Okinawa, Japan, and went around to twenty-plus countries while I served over in Okinawa back in 1998 and ’99. Then I went to the Kosovo Campaign in 1999. I spent a year, and about two months there. After I left there, I was stationed in San Diego, Mirimar, California, in which I was a Corpus Course Instructor, and then became a recruiter in 2001, and am now presently in Marion, Indiana.

LP: Where were you born and raised?

SSH: I was born in Van Wert, Ohio, and raised in Wren, Ohio, which is a town where you can blink once, and be out of it!

LP: What is your family background?

SSH: My family background is: There is nine of us all together, I have three brothers, and five sisters, which, I am the youngest boy of all the boys. At one time, there was seven of us in the house, with only one bathroom. I am presently the only family member of my family, to join the service, besides my nephew.

LP: What is your current occupation?

SSH: My current occupation, I am still in the Marine Corp with eight and a half years, and presently have ten months left to go.

LP: At the time of war, were you in a relationship, married, or single?

SSH: I was married, and had a son that was only a year and a half old.

LP: What was your educational background before you signed with the Marines?

SSH: I was a high school graduate, and I graduated in 1994.

LP: What different responsibilities did you take on during the war and after?

SSH: I was responsible for around fifty pieces of moving gear, ranging up to around $250, 000 a piece, and being in charge of about ninety to a hundred Marines and sailors, between four and five of only Sergeants, with a rank of Sergeant.

LP: In what ways did the war change your habits or activities?

SSG: Your eating habits slowed down a little bit, and your activities were to a very minimum. All we had over there was fruits and MRE’s to eat, which MRE’s are Meals Ready to Eat, and those are very minimum for each person. Activities over there, like I said, were very minimum, we were only over there for a purpose, one purpose only, and that is to help out the people of Kosovo, and keep the peace.

LP: What was the worst part about being in the Marines?

SSH: At this point in time, I can think of nothing. Being a Marine is more than words can express. It’s one big brotherhood. Once a Marine, always a Marine.

LP: Where did you attend Boot Camp, and for how long?

SSH: I attended Boot Camp at Paris Island, South Carolina, back in 1995, and it was twelve weeks long.

LP: What was the worst part about Boot Camp?

SSH: The worst part about Boot Camp was that it was very hot, and dealing with sand fleas when you were sweating. They would always get over your body, and you always wanna scratch, and that’s what made the drill instructors yell even more.

LP: What did you learn from Boot Camp?

SSH: What did I learn about Boot Camp is: You find out what your mind and body is made of. It teaches you extremely difficult times on how far you can go without giving up on yourself, learning more about yourself than you ever knew.

LP: What did you learn while in the Marines?

SSH: What did I learn about being in the Marines…I’m still learning. Everybody learns. You learn something new every day. The importance of our country, and what it stands for. You look at the flag, and the country differently, the respect towards different situations are always gonna be there.

LP: What was the hardest part about joining the Marines?

SSH: The hardest thing about joining the Marines was leaving your friends and family behind, and you’re always gone, you’re never around somebody to talk to, you’re always seeing and meeting different people.

LP: What was your main war time activity?

SSH: The only thing that I can think of about the main war time activity was coming home. Bringing everybody that you took over there, and bringing them back.

LP: What scared you the most about the war?

SSH: Not everybody wants to go to war. Nobody wants to go to war. Seeing your fellow Marines and Military Personnel dying over there for a purpose that we only knew, and nobody else did. The fear of war is the most dangerous feeling of a Marine’s career. Nobody wants to go to war. It’s our job, it’s our duty to protect and keep America free. Nobody wants people to die, but people are going to die, innocent or Military Personnel.

LP: What kind of training were you given?

SSH: Everybody, when you go to Boot Camp, and you get out, and you learn your job, your MOS, your Military Occupational Skill, for every job in the Marine Corp, you will receive a substantial amount of training ranging from four weeks, all the way up to about a year and a half.

LP: What was your title?

SSH: My title over there was Platoon Sergeant, that’s an NCIOIC, which is a non-commissioned-officer-in-charge.

LP: What activities did you perform?

SSH: My activity over there was to make sure that every Marine eats, takes care of himself, and stays alive, and most of all, performs their specific task throughout the day. Being in charge, you are always worried about others before yourself.

LP: What special rules or conventions did you have to follow?

SSH: Just like everything, everybody’s got to follow rules. During the time of war, Military Personnel will always follow the Geneva Convention, and the Rules of Engagement. ]

LP: How did you feel about the war you were involved in?

SSH: Well, basically, nobody wants to go to war, we are always the brother in arms toward other countries. We always want to lend a helping hand to everybody. We were there to make peace, and help the people of Kosovo to live again.

LP: What were your family and friends’ feelings about you joining the Marines?

SSH: Well, like everybody’s families, they get nervous and scared about somebody joining the Military in your family. Now that they know what the Marine Corp is all about, they have the greatest of respect for who I am and what I stand for.

LP: Did you worry that our side might not win the war?

SSH: Never. Not a chance. We always have the upper hand on every country.

LP: How did joining the Marines change your mental outlook on life?

SSH: The number one answer that I can give on that is respect. The respect that you develop during Boot Camp about yourself flows into your career later in life. Respecting others will take you a long way, before the end is here.

LP: Did you have a worthwhile experience while in the Marines?

SSH: The most worthwhile experience while in the Marines, the only answer I can give is: Every day in the Marines is a learning experience. Seeing and meeting new people, learning new jobs, cultures, and languages are about the best experiences you’ll ever have. The different countries you’ll see, are places people will never see in their whole life, and I’ve seen it in eight and a half years.

LP: What is your most memorable experience in the Marines?

SSH: The most memorable experience was going with the Commrade of the Marine Corp at the time was General Colar, going to the Island of Iwu Jima, where the original flag raising of the flag for the Marines was raised.

LP: What was your most humorous experience?

SSH: The most humorous experience…you have a lot of humorous experiences in the Marine Corp, you always have some laughs, having and experiencing laughs with your fellow Marines throughout the day. The most humorous was breaking a line lock that I was on, off the helicopter, and falling into the ocean in Okinawa, Japan.

LP: How did you change when you came back home?

SSH: People can’t change, coming back home, a person should never change, but the aspect in life now, is living it to its fullest, having fun and smiling every day. You never know when the end will be here.

LP: How would you describe the way the war and joining the Marines changed your life, and those of others around you?

SSH: A person really can’t change, it’s about the different situations that you’ve been in. Coming back home, the respect from others develops into a strong relationship. They respect who you are, what you’ve done, and where you’ve been. The worst thing is the questions you get about the war, and that you have to answer them, and sometimes you can’t answer them. Some thoughts are just better left behind, and not answered at all.

LP: Where was your favorite place to travel?

SSH: My favorite place to travel in the Marine Corp is: About three years ago, I was stationed in San Diego, California, Mirimar. It was warm, and the weather over there was very nice year round. It hardly ever rained. It rained probably about two months out of the whole year. I got to see and do things that most people don’t get to see, be around oceans every day.

LP: Did you find it difficult to learn new languages?

SSH: The big answer there is yes. You don’t realize the different languages until you see about twenty different-plus countries in about six months, and learn different people, languages, the way they look, talk, walk, and live.

LP: What was different about the other cultures you encountered?

SSH: Just like in the other question you asked, it is the way they eat, they live. The big answer is the beliefs they believe in compared to the US.

LP: How long did you stay in one spot?

SSH: The longest I ever stayed in one spot was Mirimar, California. It was about three years. That’s because of what I did, my job that I did. The shortest time was about two weeks, and that was pretty much doing a mock-war out at 29 Palms California.

LP: Is there anything else that I should ask you?

SSH: Throughout this interview, it gives you time to give some answers, and think too, but the only question I really have for myself, and for you is: What was the one thing you developed yourself in the Marines? While I was in the Marine Corp, I’ve been here for about eight and a half years, and the only thing I could come up with is: No matter what problems you develop in life, in the Marine Corp, no matter what you do in life, is “Don’t Quit.” And I do have a poem that I keep up in my office, and sometimes when you get down, you kind of look at it, you know, answer yourself why you’re here, what you’re doing, and what can you do to develop yourself even better.

It is called “Don’t Quit.”

“Don’t quit, when things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange, with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When you might have won, and stuck it out.
Don’t give up the peace, and pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of clouds of doubt.
You can never tell how close you are
It may be near, when it seems so far.
Just stick to the fight with your hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst, that you must not quit.”

LP: This is the end of the interview. Thank you Staff Sergeant Henry. Thank you for your time, and for sharing with us.