Marine had no reason to join apart from desire to serve
By Lance Cpl. Robert W. Beaver
| | August 18, 2006
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
Three college degrees, five years as a firefighter and even owning his own home and truck before the age of 30 wasn’t enough for Pfc. Wendell R. Simmons, Platoon 3015, Company M.
Simmons, a 28-year-old native of Long Beach, Calif., is the type of person who wants to accomplish everything he can in life.
Every year, Simmons writes a list of goals he wants to accomplish throughout the year. This year, becoming a United States Marine was at the top of his list.
“Some people have accomplished just as much as I have,” said Simmons. “But how many of them can say they were Marines? I want to look back on life and say I’ve done something.”
Simmons was in Buena Park, Calif., during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. He said the attacks affected his role as a firefighter, since from that day on he was always on call in case of another terrorist attack.
Since Simmons was the new guy at his fire station, he sometimes felt left out during opportunities to help people, including when he was left behind while some of his fellow firefighters went to help in New York.
If he couldn’t be there at ground zero, he thought the next best way he could help was to take the fight to the terrorists.
As Simmons made his choice to become a Marine, his peers attempted to convince him to join the Navy. They said that if he were to become a corpsman, he would learn medical skills that would make him a better firefighter.
However, Simmons wanted to do something different.
“I have done everything I’ve wanted to do in my life,” said Simmons. “I became a firefighter because there’s nothing better than helping people who can’t help themselves. But after five years of being a firefighter, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I figured the Marine Corps could help me find what I am looking for.”
Even with Simmons’ short time in the Marine Corps, and not yet as a Marine, he has already found opportunities to help others.
His maturity stood out among his peers in his platoon, and his drill instructors gave him the responsibilities of both scribe and witch doctor, according to Sgt. Thomas Stuckenschneider, drill instructor, Platoon 3015, Company H.
The witch doctor is a slang term used in boot camp for the recruit who is in charge of the medical supplies such as bandages and various liquids and creams that clean minor cuts and abrasions. However, if a recruit’s injuries are more involved, he will be aided by a corpsman.
Since Simmons had prior medical experience as a firefighter, his drill instructors would send recruits with minor injuries to him so he could help them, according Stuckenschneider.
Simmons enlisted as a Light Armored Reconnaissance vehicle crewman with 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
He proved his determination to get to the fight throughout the entire 13 weeks of recruit training.
“Simmons will be successful as a Marine,” said Stuckenschneider, an Aurora, Colo., native. “Throughout the cycle he never had any problems. He definitely came here to train and become a Marine.”
President Ronald Reagan once said, “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they’ve made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.”
Now Simmons doesn’t have that problem either.