Back draft puts Marine back in action
By Cpl. Anthony D. Pike
| | June 07, 2002
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
For Kevin Stein, the Marine Corps delivered its promise. It trained him as a machine gunner. It gave him experience, maturity and the opportunity to see the world. It promoted him with his peers and at the end of four years, it released him from his active duty commitment.
Then, close to two years later, the Corps asked Stein to keep one of his promises. The promise to return to duty during times of national crisis.
"I was about to stay in," said Cpl. Kevin Stein, sergeant of the guard for a Ground Security Force squad. "But I also had a dream of becoming a firefighter."
The transition from a Marine machine gunner to a civilian was difficult and proved that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
"My first job out of the Marines was as a security guard," said Stein. "A lot of jobs wouldn't hire me because I was a Marine."
Stein would move on soon enough to pursue his dream of being a firefighter.
"I was a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician for the town of Kirkwood, Calif.," Stein said. "I was one of the 20 people that made up the volunteer fire department for the town."
Being one of the few firefighters the town had gave Stein a chance to use his Marine Corps training.
"As firefighters and EMTs we would take turns standing duty, being on call for the day," Stein said. "With a team [of firefighters] as small as our towns, who ever is on call is in charge of any calls that come in."
He was always a pivotal person in his community.
"He was one of the best firefighters that Kirkwood had," said Shanen Taylor, Stein's girlfriend. "He did a lot for the community, he educated a lot of people on fire safety and prevention."
In September, with the attacks on America, Stein knew that his country, not just his community, might call on him to serve.
"I began running again after the September 11 attacks," Stein said. "I was ready to be activated."
With Christmas and New Year's Day passing Stein's worry of being activated began to diminish prematurely.
"I received my order in the middle of January," he said. "I was to report to Camp Pendleton by February 4 for mobilization of all the IRR Marines. We all went through medical and dental examinations, clothing issues and paper work."
Even before he received his orders to return, his friends could see that Stein was ready, and willing to return.
"I think he knew, he was pretty excited and looking forward to getting back in, said Taylor. "I know it's necessary, but I am not exactly thrilled about it, but I am going to support him."
After spending 45 days at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Stein was sent to the Depot. After refresher training he became the SOG of a GSF squad, and he plans on sharing a few lessons about the Marine Corps family with the Marines he has the opportunity to work with while here.
"I still love the Marine Corps," Stein said even after being out of the uniform for over two years. "I missed the brotherhood of the Marine Corps. The Corps is trying to do us [IRR Marines] right, they're helping take care of us and our families back home. Everybody out here is also willing to help us out."
Stein commends the fellow IRR Marines he works with everyday.
"All of the IRR Marines out here wouldn't be here unless they wanted too," he said, "even if they complain about being here. There are ways to get out of being recalled."
Stein also points out one of the many lessons he learned during his first tour in the Marines, "a complaining Marine is a happy Marine."
In Stein's daily duties he sees an opportunity to educate the first term Marines he works with.
"I look at some of the Marines who look at GSF as a bad experience and I can't help but thinking, 'hey I got recalled from the civilian world to do this,'" Stein said. "And I am doing it happily because I know that to be recalled, we have to be at a serious state of emergency. And you know what, I am going to do my job to the best of my ability."
For Marines looking to the end of their contracts Stein has a few words of advice.
"The civilian world is hard. You have to work hard, if you don't you'll get fired. Once you're out, you realize how good you had it in the Corps."