ABOARD USS IWO JIMA -- How hard have you worked to get to where you are? For some Marines, there are frozen days in Bridgeport, Calif., at the Corps' cold weather training center... hard, seemingly impenetrable earth where fighting positions have to be emplaced, career level schools throughout one's military life and many other obstacles that one has taken on to hold the job he or she has today.
Many Marines currently assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), have already overcome many of these challenges just by getting here. An opportunity to deploy with a MEU does not come very often for some job specialties and is competitively sought after. Not many; however, have come from farther away than Cpl. Damian A. Fearon, 23, a squad leader for Weapons Platoon, "C" Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/8. While currently hailing from the Bronx, NY, Fearon was born on the island of Jamaica. The oldest of six children, Fearon and his family immigrated to the United States in June 1993 in search of greater opportunity.
After graduating from high school, Fearon's best friend entered the Marine Corps while he enrolled in a local community college. As Fearon was earning an Associate's Degree in computer programming, his friend told of hard training and worldwide travel, cold nights in the field and warm days on sunny, distant beaches. The lure proved too great and Fearon walked into his local Marine recruiter and found a set of yellow footprints for his very own.
"I've always set goals for myself," said Fearon. "My mom worked very hard to look after us and give us opportunities in life. I have five little brothers and sisters who look up to me and that means a lot to me."
Now approaching his second deployment, Fearon recalled the images that most impressed him when completed his first deployment with the 22d MEU (SOC) recently.
"That was my first time away from home and I got to see many parts of the world that I had only read about in books. More than anything, it made me appreciate the life that we have in the United States. I saw children without any shoes, bullet holes in schools and corner grocery stores and desperate conditions. Oftentimes, I think that American kids take for granted the things that they have," Fearon said.
In addition to defending the United States as part of the nation's military, Fearon can also call it his permanent home as he recently took the oath of citizenship to become an American. "Citizenship means a lot to me," Fearon said. "My mom worked so hard to give us a chance and I want to do the best that I can with it. I want to be a U.S. Marshall or other federal employee someday, but right now I am having a lot of fun being a Marine."
To learn more about Cpl Fearon's fellow Marines and Sailors of BLT 1/8 or the 26th MEU (SOC), visit them on the web at www.26meu.usmc.mil.