Name: Alex Wilkins
Branch: US Marine Corps
Age Joined: 17
Rank: E-3 Lance Corporal
Years Served: 4 years
What made you want to serve our country?
My desire to enlist and serve our country was a combination of several factors. One of the most influential of those was the desire to make my family proud. I also felt an almost natural calling at the time. I also longed for a challenge, a brotherhood, and the opportunity to experience many things that others cannot.
What advice would you give to someone looking to go into the military?
My best advice to anyone interested in enlisting into the military, would be to go in a with a very open mind. There will be many times where one feels that it was a poor decision, or that they feel mentally or physically incapable. With an open and positive mindset, the body can accomplish insurmountable odds.
What’s your favorite quote?
“Be polite, be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone that you meet.” General James “Mad Dog” Mattis (USMC ret.)
Did you make any close friendships while in the service? Did you continue any of those relationships?
Some of the greatest individuals that I ever had the pleasure of knowing, working with, and suffering together, were met through my time in the Marine Corps. Many of those friendships are still intact to this day, and I foresee them lasting a lifetime.
What was the best and worst ‘military’ food you were served, and why?
Steak and Lobster for the Marine Corps Birthday. Worst: no idea what it was, some sort of stale bread, meat? (possibly goat, could’ve been bird but who knows. It was rough) We were on the western coast of Africa, I suppose showing locals we appreciated their food.
Tell me a funny story you experienced that could only happen in the military.
Suffering through, cold, wet, miserable, conditions was an often occurrence. Looking back, those are some of the most memorable and funny times you could have. No matter how poor the conditions, your best friends were right there suffering next to you. It was horrible at the time, but to look back, it does nothing but bring a smile and many memories.
How does your military experience affect your life today?
I give a lot of credit to the Marine Corps, and my experience as a whole, into shaping me into the man that I am today. The 13 week change that occurs through MCRD PI or MCRD SD, is unmistakable. The confidence, the work ethic, the intestinal fortitude, it all impacts my life on a daily basis.
Do you recall the day your service ended? Where were you?
I was stationed in Camp Lejeune, NC. I remember it being such a bittersweet feeling. for 4 years I was tied down by a contract to the US Government. And now I was let go to be on my own. It was a scary, headed into the unknown, memorable day.
What did you do in the days and weeks afterward?
I came home to TN, began looking for work and starting the new chapter of my life.
Where did you travel while in the service?
Western Africa (Morocco, Sahara Desert) Europe (Spain, Italy, France)
Why did you pick the service branch you joined?
My mother was in the Navy and my father was in the Army. Naturally I had to pick the best, most challenging branch.
Do you recall your first days in service?
The first 13 weeks in general was a very trying, scary, emotionally breaking time. Transitioning from a civilian to a Marine was one of the most gut checking times I’ve experienced in life so far.
Did you work or go back to school?
I attended one semester of college at ETSU. I felt very out of place and not in my element. After an unsuccessful attempt I school I found work where I continue to excel at to this day.