Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Father’s influence inspires one son to enlist, with three more to go

AL TAQADDUM, Iraq (Aug. 23, 2007) – Master Gunnery Sgt. James Hunter and Lance Cpl. Mitchell Hunter enjoy a day together at Al Taqaddum. James is Mitchell’s father and he arrived here from his station at Al Asad to spend time with his son. At Al Asad, James Hunter serves as an aircraft maintenance chief with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).Mitchell Hunter will be serving here as a landing support specialist with Transportation Support Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward).

Aug. 28, 2007; Submitted on: 08/28/2007 11:51:44 AM ; Story ID#: 2007828115144

By Cpl. Andrew Kalwitz, 2nd Marine Logistics Group
AL TAQADDUM, Iraq (Aug. 28, 2007) -- Many aren’t quite sure why they did it. For some, it is just something to do. Others just wanted the financial benefits. But Mitchell Hunter said money had nothing to do with his decision to enlist. Instead, it was about pride and an influential father.

“I thought the Marine Corps to be one job that you have to earn the title of,” said Hunter, a lance corporal who serves here as a landing support specialist with Transportation Support Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward). “At the same time, earning that title comes with a respect that I hoped to hold; that respect that I saw my father receive as a Marine.”

The Hunter family has seemingly adopted Marine Corps service as a family tradition. Mitchell’s father, Master Gunnery Sgt. James Hunter, an aircraft maintenance chief with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), explained he too enlisted out of his own pride and influence from his father, who served as a Marine during WWII. But in James’ case, money played a small role.

“Believe it or not, I enlisted on a bet with my father,” he said. “I always felt that he rode me harder than my older brother. One day, the topic of the Marine Corps came up and he said I wasn’t man enough or mature enough to survive Marine Corps boot camp. So I said, ‘Oh yeah? I’ll bet you a hundred bucks I am.’”

Needless to say, James graduated boot camp, earning one hundred dollars and a uniform he has worn for more than 24 years. James said he later used the money to buy a Father’s Day gift.

Of his four sons, Mitchell currently serves as an activated reservist, 18-year-old Justin is in the process of enlisting and 16-year-old Nathan has talked about it for years. If 8-year-old Brandon does as his brothers did, he will ask his parents to sign him up for the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

“I’d like to say that I’ve had a positive impact as a father, at least in the realm of being patriotic and serving the country. I think that’s somewhat evident,” James said.

Whether Mitchell’s brothers serve or not, they’ve had their dose of Marine Corps culture. In addition to enduring their father’s three deployments, they’ve had to move every couple of years to new duty station locations. Now deployed and a husband of five months, Mitchell is experiencing these family hardships from a servicemember’s perspective.

“You feel as if you want to do as many things as possible with your family with what little time you have left before you leave,” Mitchell said. “It's really sad and heart-breaking to have to say goodbye to your loved ones, but you know you'll be able to come back home in a while. We tend to see the bigger picture and realize how great our family is and how important they are in a deployment like this.”

James is approaching the end of his deployment and will see his family soon, but Mitchell’s has just begun. Like most Marines, he misses his family but was privileged to have been welcomed by a familiar face when stepping foot onto the desert ground.

“The last time that I saw him in uniform was in boot camp,” James said after seeing his son land in Iraq. “This time seeing him in uniform was somewhat of an out-of-body experience. I was as proud today when I saw him as I was the day I saw him (graduate).”

James arrived here from his station at Al Asad Air Base approximately 20 minutes before his son. They spent two days together before James returned to his station.

He said he was happy to have seen his oldest son and he is looking forward to seeing the rest of his family when he returns home – wherever that is. Is it Iwakuni, Japan, where Mitchell was born? Is it one of the three bases his other sons were born on? Maybe Jacksonville, N.C., where Mrs. Hunter ran her own Cuban restaurant.

None of the above. James considers home to be West Palm Beach, Fla., where he moved with his father, who served with the Civil Air Patrol and met James’ mother after flying to Belize to evacuate people during a hurricane. But the Hunter family has moved so often, there is bound to be some disagreement amongst them as to where they feel comfortable.

Many say home is where the heart is. To the few and the proud, that often means the Marine Corps. This may be the same for the Hunter family. For they are among the many who consider their fellow Marines to be family, but among the few who know their family to be fellow Marines.

No comments: