Active Duty Interview: Alec Lemmon

Over the years I have interviewed quite a few individuals, from active to veterans to ROTC and I still find myself impressed with the amazing men and women who serve our country. All their stories are unique, but they stand together for one major purpose, to protect our nation. Sergeant Lemmon is one of these people and I hope after reading his story, you continue to value these outstanding individuals.

Lemmon Photo


Sergeant Alec Lemmon

Marine Corps

In his 6 years of service, Sergeant Lemmon has experienced a variety of challenges that have helped him not only grow as a person but also serve his country proudly. His story captures the essence of working hard to achieve your goals.


Why did you decide to join the Marine Corps?

I didn’t really have anything specific in mind after high school and one of my childhood friends brought me into the recruitment office. My friend had me learn about the Marine Corps and it ended up being something I wanted to do.

How long have you served in the US Marines so far?

It has been 6 years coming up in July 2020.

Where have you been stationed?

I am part of the reserve unit, so only in Colorado. But I have traveled all over while serving.

What will be your next station after here?

At the moment I am moving to Oklahoma in late August, so I’m trying to switch units to there. However, coming up in July there is a potential to switch branches and pursue an SF (Special Forces) career which may lead me down to San Antonio.

How do you feel while you are in the military? (Successful, lonely, etc.…)

A bunch of different emotions all ranging from happy, mad, and confused. Overall, it has been a great experience and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

What has it been like while you’ve been serving? (Rough, thrilling, etc.…)

Definitely a rollercoaster ride with lots of ups and downs. All throughout it from the time of me just starting by not knowing what to do, where to be. Then going through my own career (MOS) helped me gain more experience, how to lead, and get a little wiser as I got older. It has gotten better as time has gone on.

What was training like for you?

With boot camp, I didn’t know what to expect. I prepared as best I could, and it was unlike anything else I had experienced. I used to box, and I played hockey for 16 years yet boot camp was still nothing compared to those. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Following after with combat training was really exciting and I found it to be a lot of fun. Finally, MOS and Advanced Training School were a lot more difficult on there own since a lot of it was more mental. There were a lot more tests I had to do and things I had to think about more to ensure safety.

I ask, “Where were all those located?” Boot camp was at MCRD San Diego, combat training/MCT was at Camp Pendleton, MOS school was in Lawton, Oklahoma, and ATS (Advanced Training School) was in Las Polgus, Camp Pendleton.

You enlisted, what was your experience like with that process?

I really like the enlisted side! From personal experience, there is a big disconnect between officers and enlisted within my MOS, which could be possible in many others as well but, personally, I really enjoy the men and women I am around on the enlisted side.

What is your job in the Marine Corps?

I am an O811 which is a Field Artillery Cannoneer, however, right now I am a Section Chief which is a billet of a Staff Sergeant. I roughly maintain or use over 3 million dollars’ worth of equipment.

Do you feel like you’ve built good friendships while serving?

Absolutely I have! A lot of friends I have made in the military I talk to and hang out with a lot. I have friends who are older and younger. Many of them have been mentors who have helped me through a lot throughout my time in the military.

What does your family think of you being in the military?

At first, they didn’t like the idea because they had their stereotypes, especially about the Marines before they became educated. Following right after boot camp at graduation, they were very proud of me. As time has gone on, they have gotten a lot more comfortable about me serving.

Were there any moments you’ve been afraid?/Are there any stories you’d like to share?

There has been a lot of times where I have been nervous because with my job if something goes wrong it is not just the guys on my gun, it’s people down-range and in the air. The first time I went to 29 Palms, there is a lot of unexploded ordinances out there and we had a Marine pick up an unexploded 155mm projectile, a large practice round. It was in the fire direction center; he threw it and he was only 100 meters behind us and that could have blown up. They have a kill radius of 150-meters, so I was scared. Another time we drove into a partial minefield at night and we didn’t know until morning came. I found that to be an absolute miracle that we didn’t drive on one or that our ground guide didn’t step on one leading us into position.

Did you serve in a war?

I haven’t been in any wars. I was supposed to go to Syria, but that later got canned and instead I got sent to Korea.

Do you feel like your career in the military is a successful and fulfilling one?

I would say yes to both. For me, it has been successful and fulfilling that has been built over the years. The first four years were a struggling time where I was trying to do a lot to put myself ahead and it wasn’t going in my favor. There were a lot of outstanding individuals who helped me along the way since they saw how much I was putting in. I have learned a lot about myself, things I didn’t know before, and meeting all different kinds of people. It has been a very rewarding and amazing experience overall.

What do you see yourself doing after the military?

Honestly, I have been thinking about that the last couple of years and it has come down to Art & Design. I would like to go back to school to study something with art and design, like architecture.

The final two questions below give the interviewee the opportunity to share their voice in the issue “Connecting & Protecting” is addressing.

Do you feel like there is a disconnection between the military and the general public?

I would say yes and no. The reason I say that is because different areas are where the support varies. Some of the places I have been are all about supporting and talking to the military, while others don’t pay much attention to it.

Do you have any ideas on how this issue could be resolved?

I don’t believe there is one specific way that can fix it, but I do think what you do and smaller events with the general public helps. There is a big stereotype about the military, and I think if they take the time to learn more about it, they will become more knowledgeable and be able to pass that on.

Additional comments:

Check out the organization called Oscar Mike. They are a non-profit organization that keeps wounded veterans on the move. (“Oscar Mike” in military lingo means “on the move”.) They help to rebuild confidence in those individuals who have been affected by something during their service whether it’s mental or physical. They provide many different opportunities to show them how to overcome any obstacle they’re going through. Oscar Mike holds all kinds of events around the nation which are seen in a local community setting. This allows for fantastic interaction with veterans/military members and civilians. 100% of all donations, whether you’re buying a T-shirt or just straight donating to the organization, it all goes to the adaptive athletes/wounded veterans Oscar Mike sponsors.

Learn more about supporting this organization by visiting their website:


Photos provided by the interviewee



Plans for The Future

Hello everyone,

This is Debra Zerr, the founder, and president of Connecting & Protecting. I know recently my project/organization has not been very active and nothing has been posted in a while. I am so happy that our current supporters are still with us and I am very grateful for you.

Despite all the inactivity, I still have plans to ensure this project succeeds. For some insight, here are some plans or ideas I have for the future.

  1. Hosting/Creating a new event over the summer.
  2. Posting more interviews
  3. Creating more KaHoots games
  4. Completing some current posts for the website.

Now, this does not seem like a lot, but I promise it will be worth your while. I’m very excited to start working on the concepts of #1 and bringing it up with my volunteers. Once all the details are set, I’ll announce the event formally.

I really hope each of you continues to support my organization. Again, I thank you for all your patience and faithful support.


Debra Zerr


December News

During the winter, Connecting & Protecting reaching out never ceases, we get busy with plans, projects, and new additions! This month we set out to send good tidings to those who volunteer with us and protect our nation!


  • We’re still looking for willing volunteers to help with events during the summer and year around projects! Fill out the information form below to learn more about what being a C&P Volunteer means!
  • Interested in having one of our events offered hosted for you or your group? Fill out the request form below to find out more information and reserve your spot today!

Meet our new team members!

  1. Chase Hamling, Facebook Page and Website Co-Manager
  2. Delanie Stephens, Quick Facts Researcher
  3. Haley Huser, Interview Editor
  4. Austin Cito, Newsletter Editor

Articles and videos that hit our Facebook Page:

  1. Military Helicopters Deployed to California
  2. A Soldier’s Christmas
  3. US Army Sniper School

Military Holiday Project:

  • In the month of December, Debra and volunteers came together to bring some holiday cheer to the local recruiter offices.

View the article here!


We added a new quick fact article this month! Learn more about the Army’s Boot Camp here!

That’s all we have for this month’s newsletter! We have some great announcements that will be released over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Missed November’s newsletter? Click here to read it!

Boot Camp Facts: Air Force

How long is boot camp? 8 and a half weeks!

What are the trainees called at boot camp? Recruits!

In the Air Force, the mentors for recruits are Military Training Instructors!

Where is boot camp located? Only 1 location, Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas!

Check back every other week for more quick facts!

This post was researched by Delanie Stephens.

Boot Camp Facts: Army

How long is boot camp? 10 weeks!

What are the trainees called at boot camp? Recruits!

In the Army, the mentors for recruits are Drill Sergeants!

Where is boot camp located? 5 locations!

  1. BCT: Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia
  2. Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina
  3. Fort Leonard Wood in Waynesville, Missouri
  4. Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma
  5. Fort Knox in Louisville, Kentucky

Remember to keep checking back every other week for more quick facts!

This post was researched by Delanie Stephens.

Military Holiday Project

At the beginning of December, Debra brought a new idea to her volunteers to show appreciation to the military who helped her all these years.


Through lots of coordination and planning, Debra also managed to get her National Honor Society group to help out too!


After all the planning and preparations were complete, Debra and her co-leader set the dates for the party and delivery day.

The baking and card making party was held December 13th, 2017. After 3 hours, 35 cards and dozens of cookies were made.

Each card was hand-written inside to wish the military a “Merry Christmas & Happy New Year” as well as thanking them for their service.

Three different cookie recipes were made and put on festive Santa plates.

Finally, on December 18th the gifts were delivered to 5 recruitment offices in Arvada, Westminster, and Longmont.

“It was so much fun doing something so festive for the people I appreciate so greatly for helping me these past years. Their smiles when I gave them the cookies and cards were absolutely priceless.”

~ Debra Zerr

Debra and the volunteers hope more people will want to bring joy to men and women in the offices as each year passes so that every office gets something sweet for the holidays.

From all of us, Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

This post was created by Debra Zerr. Photos were taken during the process.

November News

The month of November was all about taking time off and honoring veterans. We also made plans for something special!

  1. Marine Corps Birthday was Nov 10th. From everyone at Connecting & Protecting, happy 242nd birthday Marines!

Watch their Birthday Video here!

  1. Nov 11th was Veteran’s Day and the USMC Memorial in Golden hosted their ceremony 2 PM. The ceremony was filled with honor and glory to those who have served our country.
  2. We updated our business hours! Check below to see our new hours!

Mon-Wed: 11:00 AM-6:00 PM
Thurs: 10:00 AM-6:30 PM
Fri: 8:00 AM-5:00 PM
Sat: 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
Sun: Closed

  1. We were closed Thanksgiving to let our volunteers enjoy time with their friends and family!


  1. We are still in need of volunteers! Fill out the interest form below if you would like to learn more about how you can help!
  2. Interested in requesting an event from us for the 2018 season? Fill out the interest form below!


The month of December brings a joyous holiday and a sweet volunteer action! Check our next newsletter to find out what it was!

Missed our last newsletter? Read it here!

October News

October was an eventful month for Connecting and Protecting with many fun things happening.

1. Navy Birthday was Oct 13th. They turned 242.
2. A post on our founder’s Facebook page included photos of her name on the Gold Award Plaque in the Girl Scouts Council office.

3. The US Marine Corps Memorial Veterans Day ceremony was Nov 11th at 2 PM. It was a beautiful ceremony.

Here are some links to videos and posts that floated through our Facebook Page:

About a US Coast Guard Cutter

Navy Birthday video

Special Article from Debra

“I never intended to share my essay or insult anyone through it. I saw it as a major personal growth story that I want everyone to know. Even though I only mentioned one person, I could write a novel about each individual and what they did for me.”

~ Debra Zerr, President of C&P

Girl Scouts Founder Birthday


  • We had a special event happen this month, follow the link to learn more!

Care Packages for Military

  • We are still in need of volunteers for Connecting and Protecting in general and for the events! Fill out the contact form below for more information.

Thanks for all the continuing support!

Missed our September News? Read it here!

My Heroes: Special Post Shared by Debra Zerr

     Below is an essay Debra wrote about her project for school. She wanted to share it with all of the Connectors. Enjoy!

In June of 2015, I embarked on the journey of earning the Girl Scout Gold Award: the highest award in the organization. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. Not because I got the award, but the people I had the privilege of meeting and life skills I acquired vastly helped me, even to this day. My project, Connecting & Protecting, was and still is, to bring attention to those who often fall into the shadows of our society. The very group of people very few actually know, the United States Military. It consisted of six parts and over one hundred team members, all passionately fighting towards the same goal (connection between the general public and the military). The star team members were the men and women in the military who dedicated their time and energy to helping this project up on its feet. One gentleman, in particular, stood out from the rest. This gentleman’s name is Staff Sergeant Keith Carter of the Marine Corps.

By July I had faced 4 rejections towards my project from council. They didn’t like something about it every time I tried to turn in my proposal. I had an awful assigned mentor from Girl Scouts and I felt like giving up on it all. It was like I was the only one who saw the need and purpose of my project, but no one else wanted to try or listen. Four days before I was hoping to be approved to be interviewed by council, my mentor told me to get some military on my team to prove the purpose of my project. I was furious with her, but I did what she told me anyway. I researched phone numbers for the local recruiting stations around where I lived and made my first phone call.

The dial and ring of the phone on my end filled me with nerves and anxiety. I felt my stomach caving in while my head scrambled to find the right words to say when someone answered. Then the ring stopped and a man’s voice spoke quickly on the other end, I didn’t catch his name. My mind went blank and the butterflies fell to the pit of my stomach. I somehow found the courage to finally spit out a stuttered “hello” and tell him my name. The man was silent, so I took a deep breath and continued.

“I am working on my Girl Scout Gold Award project, which is the highest award. Most of the parts are happening at the US Marine Corps Memorial in Golden-“

“I love it,” he said, cutting me off mid-sentence.

I could hear his smile through his voice. I suddenly let out a muffled breath of relief and we shared an awkward laugh together before I continued. He listened carefully and I found his kind laughter through the phone to be relaxing. After I concluded my description over phone, I asked him if I could meet with him the next morning. He cheerfully agreed and we both hung up the phone.

The feeling of joy and success rushed through my veins uncontrollably. After so many rejections and hardships, I had finally received my first “yes” from someone. At this point, I didn’t even care that there was still a chance he could say no to helping me, I just felt overwhelmingly happy with the fact I had did it. I had made a phone call and successfully communicated despite the stuttering and butterflies in my stomach. A sense of pride and confidence rushed through me, which motivated me to give my project one last try. All these feelings helped me prepare for meeting properly and have the courage to stand up against those who hated my project.

The time had come for the meeting with the Marine I had spoken with on the phone had arrived. Those dreaded butterflies filled my stomach once more, making me feel nauseous. As we got closer to the office, I went pale and the doubts started filling my head. “You can’t do this.”, “Your project has no purpose.”, and “You’re going to fail.” crowded my mind like the streets of New York City. Those few words said by many had made me believe I couldn’t do anything. I had arrived finally and walked through the door. I glanced around the room to try to find the man. All the other recruiters looked at me confused and serious-like. Then I turned my head to the right and there, sat a man with the biggest smile on his face. All the feelings of anxiety and doubt instantly rushed out of me and replaced with a sense of assurance that I was going to be okay. I walked over to him and shook his hand.

“Hi, I’m Debra, we spoke on the phone about a project I’m doing,” I said confidently.

“Hi, it’s nice to meet you, I’m Sergeant Keith Carter. Take a seat and tell me more about this project of yours,” he stated while motioning me to a chair directly across from him.

I sat down and started telling him more. Starting with some background of who I am and why I chose this as my project. He kept smiling and had that look of enthusiasm in his eyes as I explained even further what the award is and what my plans are for the project. I cracked some jokes to help relax the atmosphere and showed him documents. I could feel me becoming more comfortable and confident as I kept going. Finally, I concluded all I needed to explain, he asked some questions, I answered, and then I finally asked the one question that would confirm the fate of my project.

“So, will you help me with my project, sir?” I asked.

“Absolutely!” Sgt. Carter said enthusiastically.

The smile that came from me following after he said yes was one of the biggest smiles I had shared with people in a while. After I had said goodbye and left the meeting, I sat down at a Starbucks and added Sgt. Carter to my team and proposal. I instantly sent it in and within a few hours I got notified that I was approved to be interviewed in two days at the Colorado Girl Scout Council’s Office. I scrambled for those two days to prepare and gather all my information quickly. The day finally came for the interview/presentation with council. That night is mostly a blur in my head, I mainly remember getting very frustrated and wanting to prove council wrong. Which was my feelings towards those people since the very beginning.

Further along when my project had finally been fully approved, I started calling other military members. All as astoundingly willing to help me as Sgt. Carter. They shared similar qualities with him, but none were as enthusiastic about my project. It made it really easy to keep chugging along in my project because I had such a strong support from the military. He listened, which I find to be a very good quality to have when it comes to a business relationship. I called him to let him know that the project was moving forward and he went out of his way to set up a brief 10-minute meeting with me to just ask how I was doing since meeting him. That taught me to be compassionate to all, regardless of how busy my life is at the time.

Once the fall of 2015 rolled around, the majority of my project had been completed, but I had family and school things to tend to, which didn’t bother any of the military at all. They were all patient with me. It was December when I had finally contacted him and the others to interview them for my website I had built. They remembered who I was and were absolutely ecstatic to be interviewed for my website. SSgt. Carter (newly promoted) was especially excited to finally share his story with the world and give his opinion on my project. This taught me two things: patience with all is key, especially since you don’t always know what they’re going through and to not be scared to speak up when you want your voice to be heard.

Finally the time came for me to present my project to council. I was preparing for my presentation, I called him and asked if he would be there, as I expected, he said yes. And, as always, he asked how the preparations were going and I was more than honest with him that I was nervous and scared. He made sure I knew he had full confidence in me and that I could do it. This taught me to be a strong role model to everyone and to speak sincerely when encouraging others.  The next day after my presentation, I had received news that I earned the award. SSgt. Carter and all the military showed me how proud they were and that they would stand by my side forever, I had earned their respect. This strengthened my loyalty to all people who deserve it and how to never shy away from feeling proud of my accomplishments without feeling like I was bragging.

SSgt. Carter taught me so many things, all of the military did throughout the process and still do to this day. I could go on forever with many stories and lessons I learned during my project, but the most important ones I listed and the final one is this; when you strive for success and face the toughest of challenges, you will be unstoppable. I understand what that means now and agree with SSgt. Carter. Before this project, I did not think I was capable of accomplishing something this large and touching so many people’s hearts. I gained confidence and determination – the keys to get what you want. In conclusion, SSgt. Keith Carter of the Marine Corps and all the military are more than just heroes of our nation, they are my heroes who helped me be a better person.

September News

This month at Connecting & Protecting has been a quiet one. We have a few things to report to you though!


  • We’re looking for event requests for the 2018 season! Click here to submit a request.
  • We are in need of more yearly and season event volunteers! If you are interested fill out the form below.


Did you know that we accept requests to have a story put on our Facebook Page and website? If you have a story on how you showed respect to the military, contact us today!

  • Here’s a story we had the honor to share on our Facebook!

Kris Breth’s Story

We’ve been trying to locate more interviewees to bring more great stories to our website for you to read! Did you get a chance to read Laura Bostwick’s interview?

IMG_3844.jpg CROP



“…When we got on scene the boat was completely submerged in water, but they were still in it…”

~ BM1 Laura Bostwick


September 11th, 2017:

On 9/11 we honored those lost in the deadly attack on American soil. To show our remembrance we reshared our post from last year and shared a photo of the booth at Debra’s college. We also took the day to remember them.

Read the article here!

The Photo of the Booth.

September 18th, 2017:

The Air Force celebrated their 70th birthday! Read the article we shared here!

Important dates from September;

September 11th: Patriot Day
(9/11 Remembrance Day)

September 17th: Constitution Day (or Citizenship Day)

September 18th: US Air Force (USAF) Birthday

3rd Friday in September: National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Last Sunday in September: Gold Star Mother’s Day


That’s all the news we have for this month! Miss our summer news? Read it here!