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Why I Serve: A Family's Sense of Service

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2005 – "It just felt like service was something everyone was supposed to do," Marine Sgt. Mandy L. McCammon said in Utapao, Thailand, recently.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Sgt. Mandy L. McCammon, with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base at Camp Butler in Okinawa, was deployed to Utapao, Thailand, in support of the Combined Support Force organizing the relief effort. She said that as she grew up, it seemed service that services was something everyone was supposed to do. Photo by Samantha Quigley
  

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

Her mother, a Canadian citizen, instilled a sense of service in her, McCammon said. She was encouraged to give back to others through church and community, but not military, she added.

But she followed the lead of her grandfather, a World War II veteran and her brother who served in the military for 12 years.

McCammon, however, said conveying the message of why she serves isn't always easy when she's talking to civilians. "It's hard to explain to people who don't serve," McCammon said. "I really like the responsibility."

She's assigned to Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base at Camp Butler in Okinawa, where she is the central bureau chief for the Okinawa Marine newspaper. Her deployment to Utapao was in support of the Combined Support Force offering relief to the tsunami disaster victims.

McCammon wasn't always been in the news business, however.

At 22, she became a Marine Corps combat instructor, an assignment she said she took very personally. "Teaching young Marines to survive combat," she said, made her "very proud."

Though she's been a Marine for seven years, she doesn't anticipate making it a career.

"I have two kids now, so I feel like my priorities are shifting," she said.

The Utapao deployment was the first away from her children.

"It's really hard to explain to the kids (when they ask) 'Why do you have to leave me to go help somebody else?'" McCammon said.

But she said her deployment helping the disaster victims would help her explain. The stories she gathered from her time in Thailand would add to stories from her years in the Marine Corps that she would tell her son, 5, and her daughter, who is about to celebrate her first birthday.

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