|HADITHA, Iraq, June 4, 2007 — Any duration of time away from friends and family can take a toll on the hearts and minds of all involved. The recent surges of deployments to Iraq are no different for servicemembers and their families. While some wish to never deploy again after their first or second tours, some Marines look forward to their deployments.
Such is the case of Gunnery Sgt. Eugene Holiday Jr., radio chief for Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, who is voluntarily back in Iraq for his seventh time.
Holiday realized in 1992, during his senior year of high school, he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a Marine.
“My father was actually disappointed when I decided to join because he wanted me to take one of the football scholarships I had been offered and go to college,” said the Jasper, Ala., native. “I had a friend who took a football scholarship the year before and during his first year of college he was injured and had nothing to fall back on, and I didn’t want to take that chance, so I decided the Marine Corps would be a better decision.”
Holiday left for Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., on Aug. 3, 1992, where he began recruit training with 2nd Battalion, Platoon 2098.
“When I went to boot camp I joined as open contract because I honestly didn’t care what job I got, as long as I was a Marine,” he said. “When I found out I was put into the communication field I was pretty happy, because it was a technical job.”
After completing basic training, Holiday checked into 3rd Surveillance Intelligence Group, Okinawa, Japan. During his service in the Corps, he has performed recruiting duty in Atlanta and has been on many deployments with various units.
“This is actually my seventh time to Iraq, but only my second full deployment,” said the 32-year-old. “With my previous units we would come to Iraq for only a few months at a time. I actually left Joint Forces in Norfolk, Va., to deploy with 1/3 because I figured it would enhance my career and to have the chance to lead Marines again. At Joint Forces I was always leaving out of nowhere, but with 1/3 I’ll be gone for seven months and will return to my family. It’s a lot more stable.