Face of Defense: Haitian Marine Earns U.S. Citizenship
By Marine Corps Cpl. Timothy Childers
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit
AT SEA, USS Rushmore, Nov. 9, 2012 The Marine Corps is a melting pot of brave men and women from many nationalities, all sharing the desire to serve and protect the United States. Each has a unique story that deserves to be told.
Marine Corps Cpl. Pierre K. Justin, an administration clerk with Command Element, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, re-enlists for four years, Oct. 30, 2012, aboard the USS Rushmore dock landing ship. Justin was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1990 and moved to New York at 15. He earned his U.S. citizenship while in the Marine Corps. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Childers
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Corps Cpl. Pierre K. Justin was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1990. At the 15, he left the Caribbean and moved to his father’s house in New York City. Today, he serves as an administration clerk, deployed with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Rushmore.
This year Justin received his U.S. citizenship after completing the application process in four months and without spending a dime from his own pocket. A bonus, he said, that he would not have completed so easily if not for the Marines. Although gaining his citizenship wasn’t the sole reason for joining, it was something Justin accomplished while serving his adopted country.
“I joined because I wanted a sense of independence and a better life for myself,” said Justin, who recently re-enlisted for another four years in the Corps. “I wanted to experience new things and meet people from other states and nationalities. I wanted to travel the world. I never thought I would visit Hawaii or Australia, which I’ve already done during this deployment.”
As an administration clerk on the smallest ship of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, Justin works from a shared government computer whenever it’s free to use. Although he said he would prefer to work in a field environment, he added he understands his importance to the mission and is happy that he is able to help fellow Marines on a person-to-person level.
“I take care of people,” he said. “When Marines come to me with issues I can handle, I feel good that I’m able to help them, whether it’s updating their personal information, awards or certificates, fixing pay issues or requesting meritorious mast. If a Marine comes to me for help for something important such as a problem with their pay, I’ll make them a priority so it gets fixed.”
Justin said he appreciates the many things the Marine Corps has provided for him in return for his hard work and dedication to duty. For Justin, the benefit that stands out above the rest is the brotherhood shared between those who have earned the right to be called “Marine.”
“I like the brotherhood between us,” he said. “It’s like a bigger family. Everyone takes care of each other. I remember when my car was broken down and in the shop. I barely had to ask and another Marine would drive me wherever I needed to go. That’s camaraderie.”
Justin has high hopes for the future, looking forward to where his job might take him and the new friendships he will create. During the next four years he hopes to serve the Corps well and continue to help others.