War on Terrorism

Monday, May 07, 2012

Face of Defense: Marine Recalls Decision to Enlist

By Army Spc. Chelsea Russell
Regional Command Southwest

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan , May 7, 2012 – When Cpl. Erica Adams decided to join the Marine Corps, she knew she wanted to be a motor transportation mechanic.

“My dad would show me how to fix my own car,” the Clinton, Ill., native said. “I was a tomboy. I did all the dirty work and the yard work.”

Adams, who is attached to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group here, said she never planned on joining the Marine Corps until just before her Feb. 7, 2010, enlistment. Her best friend’s brother was home on recruiter assistance duty, and Adams decided to tag along with them to the recruiting station. She didn’t plan on signing up, she said, but her best friend did. But when they walked out of the recruiting station later that day, Adams had joined instead.

Her mother and sisters were stunned when they found out she had chosen to enlist in the Marine Corps. At first, they doubted her decision and asked her why she hadn’t picked the Army, Air Force or the reserves. She replied that the Marine Corps’ strict standards appealed to her.

When she made the decision to join the Marines, Adams said, her parents were on vacation and had no idea. They were quite shocked when, shortly after their return home, Adams nonchalantly placed the card she had received from the Marine recruiter on the table.

Pausing a moment to let them puzzle over the card, she said, she told them she had enlisted in the Marines and soon would be leaving for recruit training.

But it didn’t take long for her parents to fully support her decision, she said. “By the time I went to boot camp, they were all behind me,” she added. “They sent me a letter every day in boot camp.” Adams received her eagle, globe and anchor on her 21st birthday.

She celebrated her 22nd birthday in the Vanuatu Islands while participating in a four-month Pacific Partnership humanitarian deployment. This year, Adams will celebrate her 23rd birthday in Afghanistan.

Adams’ time in the Marine Corps thus far has taken her to exotic locales such as New Guinea, Australia and Hawaii. While she was growing up, she said, she wanted to travel but she didn’t know if she’d ever actually be able to do so.

“They said I would see the world,” she said, laughing. “That was one of the reasons I wanted to join.”

Her experiences have taught her the world is a big place with many differences in culture, Adams said. “It’s a whole other world,” she said. “There’s a lot of different people with a lot of different ways of living.”

During her deployment, Adams said, she hopes to gain more experience as a Marine. She’s already managed to pay off her credit card bills, and she said she wants to have a better understanding of why U.S. forces have deployed to Afghanistan.

“I just want to bring home the truth about what really goes on and what it’s like to be here,” she said.

It pleases her to know she’s making her family proud by serving in the military.

“There’s a whole other world out there besides the town that you grew up in,” she said. “I feel like I’m more mature than [the people I grew up with]. I’ve seen and done so much already, and I’m only 22. I’m proud that I can make my parents proud.”

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