MARINES: Sammy Watson is and will forever be a Jarhead
Published 10:37 am Friday, November 11, 2016
Sammy Watson may not be an active military service member any longer, but his time as a Marine will continue to impact his life until the day he dies. Both of his forearms bare tattoos honoring his service and the lessons he learned will forever influence the man he is.
“Every day,” Watson said of how often his time in the service impacts him. “I always show respect to people. I’m as nice as I can be to people. If I see somebody that needs help with something I try to help them. I still love my country with everything that I have and I would still fight for her to this day.”
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The Marines started to shape his life on Dec. 29, 1996 when he fulfilled his life goal and shipped to boot camp to begin his military service.
“It was something I’d wanted to do since I was a little kid,” Waston said. “Seeing the commercials. I knew I wanted to serve my country and that was just the branch that popped out.”
The next three months were an education in how to be a Marine, and for Watson, the fine-tuning of lessons about being a man that his dad had instilled in him.
“Three months of nothing but running and getting yelled at, and ultimately building me into the man I have become now,” he said of boot camp. “That’s what the Marines do. They break you down completely and then they build you back up into the Marine they need you to be.”
Following the conclusion of boot camp, Watson spent four years at Camp Pendleton in California as a fire direction control man working with field artillery. He then spent four years at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina before returning to Camp Pendleton.
It was during his second stint in California that Watson and the 3rd battalion, 5th Marines regiment got the call that they would be deploying overseas.
“January of 2008, I deployed to Iraq,” Watson said. “It was something that I was expecting. I wasn’t surprised by it. I knew that we were going to be going eventually, so it was just waiting for that time to come.”
He was stationed at Camp Ripper in Al Asad, Iraq, part of the “Green Zone.”
“My time over there was short and fairly uneventful,” Watson said. “I didn’t see any combat or anything like that… I was in the green zone. I wasn’t out doing patrols or anything like that.”
Even in a non-combat zone, Watson’s time on deployment was grueling.
“It was 12-hour days, seven days a week,” he said. “Twelve on twelve off. We worked the whole time we were over there.”
He spent three months in Iraq before a shoulder injury forced him to be medically separated from the deployment and eventually medically discharged from the Marines.
Watson now drives semi-trucks for Dollar Farm Products, but the man that is called Jarhead by his friends will always be a Marine and Veterans Day will always be one of the most important days on the calendar to him.
“It means a lot,” he said of the holiday. “It’s a time for me to reflect on the time that I was in service serving my country and it’s also a time for me to remember my brothers and sisters that have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.”
“Don’t forget about your veterans on Veterans Day. If you see one. If you know one. Shake their hand and tell them you appreciate their service. If you see an active duty person same thing. Shake their hand and tell them you appreciate their service. It may seem not like much to a civilian, but to a military member or a veteran it means a lot.”