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Why I Serve: Lieutenant Enjoys Contributing to Society

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

ABOARD THE USS BONHOMME RICHARD, Jan. 31, 2005 – "That I contributed something meaningful to society, that I didn't just sit back and watch and say, 'I could have done something,'" is what Marine 1st Lt. Marc Lewis's service means to him.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine 1st Lt. Marc Lewis is an intelligence officer with the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard. Lewis said it felt good to help people through his role in the tsunami disaster relief effort. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

As an intelligence officer for Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165, Lewis is responsible for assisting the aircraft operators in completing their missions.

He got lots of practice with that while the USS Bonhomme Richard was supporting tsunami relief efforts off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. That mission was another reminder to Lewis of why he serves.

"I feel good having a chance to help," Lewis said. "I felt the same way last year, except I was getting shot at." Last year he was in Iraq, sharing a 16-man tent with 27 colleagues.

"Ever since then I've been real close with a couple of them," he said, adding that he hasn't had friends like that since high school.

Lewis said he enjoys working with the people in his shop. "If you're in a bad mood, they make you smile," he said. But even if coworkers don't always see eye to eye, they still respect each other. "You might not always get along with each other, but when it comes down to it, we look out for each other," he said.

Lewis, who said he would probably make the Marines a career, took a winding path to end up in the Corps. Initially he taught school in California. Special education, bilingual special education and physical education all hold space on his civilian resume.

But when it came down to it, he couldn't escape the family business. But even that took some testing of the waters, so to speak, before he settled on the Marine Corps. While most of his relatives have served in the military, Lewis began a new chapter in that part of the family's history.

"I wanted to do something different," he said. "Everybody in my family was either Air Force or Army." Lewis, who has an 8-year-old daughter from a previous marriage and is expecting a baby in June with his current wife, spent a year and a half in the Naval Reserve before enlisting in the Marine Corps.

But deciding on a service different from the majority of his family wasn't the end of wanting to be different. Lewis, who was first a teacher, has become a student. "I'm kind of an anomaly," Lewis said. "I've been to every school (in the military) you can think of."

Overall military life agrees with him. "It has its ups and downs, but a lot more ups than downs," he said.

Those "ups" have, in the recent past, come from strangers, he said, noting the gratitude he experienced in Iraq. "When people write you notes in different languages or just walk up and say thank you," it is another reinforcement of his reason for serving, he said.

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