NORWAY, Mich. (WJMN) — When approaching the subject of why join the Marine Corps, many answers came to mind, but only one seemed to be for this one Upper Peninsula family.
“I wanted to be the best,” said Corporal Guy Garrett. “I wanted to join the hardest service there was out there. I just wanted to be the best and a couple of my teachers said I would make it in the Marine Corps, so I had to prove them wrong.”
“I knew he was joining, but day after graduation I took off of work so I could spend the day with,” Guy’s mother, Kathy DuPont remembers. “8 o’clock that morning, there’s the recruiter picking him up and I just balled.”
“I just always knew I was going to be in the Marine Corps,” said Cpl. Garrett. “Just wanted to be in the Marine Corps ever since I was 6-7 years old.”
Corporal Garrett didn’t realize it, but he started a trend. A trend that his family continues to follow till this day.
“I ran into Guy’s recruiter. He asked me if I wanted to join the Marine Corps and I had no excuse to say no, so I said yes,” said Guy’s brother, Lieutenant Colonial Michael Malone.
“It’s family tradition. Just trying to keep the line going.” Sergeant Trevor Kraemer.
The youngest, Corporal Dylan Hoffat, has been apart of the Marine Corps for over 3 years now.
“I didn’t even ask. I just said sounds good,” Cpl. Hoffart. “They didn’t push me. They did it, so I was like I might try it out as well. I didn’t know what I was going to do, so I thought I had four more years to decide.
But, Kathy DuPont, or Nana as her family calls her, knew she couldn’t stop them. Nor would should’ve want too. She has seen her boys go in one after another and she has been fortunate enough to have them all return home.
“It was a mix of feelings,” said Kathy DuPont. “I used to seeing them every night and now I’m not going to see them at all. That’s makes a big difference. It’s like you loose a kid there for a while.”
“In the Marine Corps they instill discipline, high management and I’ve taken that into my everyday life,” Cpl. Garrett. “Work hard, play hard.”
Being the first in, Corporal Guy Garrett had the first crack at the Marine Corps, but after 13 weeks of boot camp, he tried to convince his brother not to join.
“I told my brother not to join,” said Cpl. Garrett. “I said it’s hard, their gonna try and kill you because I was immature when I joined and I laughed at the drill instructors on day one. All five drill instructors knew my name and that’s the worst thing you could want in your life.”
“It’s a good place to figure out who you are and what you want to do,” Cpl. Hoffart.
“It’s chaos at first, but when you get towards graduation, it becomes the most gratifying experience of your life,” Sgt. Kaminski.
Being moved around all the time becomes a part of the Military lifestyle, whether your state-side, like San Diego, California, Pensacola, Florida, Cherry Creek, North Carolina; or overseas in Afghanistan, these men always seemed to be on the move. Making for a bit of a culture shock for a bunch of boys from the Upper Peninsula.
“You get in your mind what you thinks it’s going to be like, but turns out to like nothing you thought it to be,” said Sgt. Kaminski. “When you work on airplanes, you think it’s going to be fairly safe, ain’t going to get bothered really at all, which was not the answer. I think our second day there they attacked the base and we were on lockdown for like 6 hours.”
An experience Devin would never forget.
“Helicopters shooting missiles into the side of a mountain, 50 caliber guns going off, and it was chaos.”
“I never even thought of myself as a veteran,” Cpl. Garrett remarked. “Whenever I think of vet’s, I think of people who fought in World War I and World War II. Yeah I was in there during a time of war, but I wasn’t the one out there in the field.”
“When Mike went to Afghanistan, the first time, I completely blocked it out, but the second time, it was like I couldn’t have sent him a enough of stuff and everything else,” said Kathy DuPont.
“The third time he came home, he never called me almost 3 months, but he had PTSD really bad, like these boys (Devin and Trevor) do and it was rough. I had other military families because I belong to the PTR and they just said give them time and that’s what they need. They need time to themselves for them.”
From being a member of the Military to being a civilian again, it takes time.
“It’s still hard. You cry at night because you missed them, it was hard, but when I watch these boys come home, it made it worse because they had PTSD really bad.”
When these men arrived back home, it can be a tough transition. Soldiers turn to civilian’s and need to adjust to every day life. Typical sounds to the civilian ear can bring back a tremendous amount of pain for soldiers.
“You can go out in town and your kind of nervous, kind of worried, but you shouldn’t be,” said Sergeant Devin Kaminski.
“You gotta get your grips a bit again,” said Sergeant Kraemer. “Just to get familiar with everyone again. It’s definitely a relief seeing family and friends again.”
“It’s hard to watch your family, there’s a part of them that might never heel,” said Kathy DuPont.
In some cases, many members of the military are going in alone. When there in it, they have back-up. When it’s over, they are all alone again, but not for this Upper Peninsula family. They have each others back. Just a phone call away, they can reach out to one another for advice. Beneficial for not only being a member of the Marines, but also when they become civilians again.
“If they had a problem, they would call their Uncle Mike and if they needed something, they’d call their Uncle Mike,” said Nana DuPont.
“Uncle Mike was my biggest influence when I was growing up,” said Sgt. Kaminski. “I wanted to be just like him, so at 5 years old I said I’m going to join the Marine Corps.”
“Every time I come into a problem I know who to call. Helps out a lot so I don’t make the same mistakes they did,” Cpl. Hoffart.
“To choose the Marines right from High School from a small town is scary. I know, I’ve done it, and I am so very proud that they chose to do that,” said Lt. Colonel Malone.