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.
Sergeant Alec Lemmon
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.
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: https://www.oscarmike.org/
Photos provided by the interviewee