Cartoony recruit turns down Disney job to serve in Corps
By Lance Cpl. Alicia Small
| | October 06, 2006
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
Leaving behind the world of cartoon art and an opportunity of a lifetime to work at Disney/Pixar, Inc., one man chose to pick up an M16-A2 service rifle and train to become one of the few and the proud.
Pfc. Nathaniel W. Griggs, Platoon 2017, graduated from Marine Corps recruit training today to make his dream of becoming a Marine come true.
When Griggs was in the delayed entry program in his hometown of Moline, Ill., he entered a piece of art, created with ink pen and colored pencil, into a contest and won second place.
His artwork drew Disney/Pixar’s attention and they offered him an apprenticeship as a cartoonist with their company. Although he was excited about the offer, Griggs decided to turn it down and stick with his decision to join the Marine Corps as a reservistwhile he furthers his education in art.
Griggs’ family fully supported his decision to stick with the Marine Corps instead of taking the job offer with Disney.
He said his parents had always encouraged him to do whatever it was that made him happy. He wasn’t sure a career drawing cartoons would provide him with what he wanted in life.
When his recruiter asked him what he hoped to gain from the Marine Corps and life in general, Griggs said the most important things to him were education, professional development and challenge.
"Griggs knew what he wanted and showed a lot of contentment with his decision," said Sgt. Clemente J. Batista, Griggs’ recruiter, from Recruiting Substation Quad Cities, Recruiting Station Des Moines, Iowa.
Griggs realized how much value the Marine Corps could hold for him and knew he could go to college anytime, but he wouldn’t always have the chance to be a Marine, said Batista.
As a child doing projects in school, Griggs discovered his love of art. He polished up on his talent during high school art classes and started drawing on his own with encouragement from his father.
He said he tried to have either a camera or sketch pad on him at all times, so when he saw a subject he was interested in capturing, he could stop to do a sketch right away, or he could take a picture and draw the scene later. As he developed his drawing skills, he learned how to better express himself and become more creative with his artistic talent.
Throughout the last year and a half, before leaving for boot camp, he said he made a gradual turn from drawing mostly cartoons to composing more realistic compositions.
He became interested in artwork modeled after the armed forces, like the one he entered in the contest. Griggs said he believed being in the Marine Corps would provide him with a solid foundation to better express his thoughts of the noble aspects of military service.
Throughout training, Griggs continued to draw during his free time. He did sketches for the other recruits in the platoonand designed various items for the drill instructors as well.
Showing his creativity, Griggs also helped paint the range flag, which is a flag platoons carry for motivation during the rifle range. Platoon 2017’s flag brandished a fox holding a standard issue service rifle, targets and the senior drill instructor’s name.
During second phase, Griggs’ senior drill instructor, Staff Sgt. Abraham C. Bueno, discovered Griggs’ talent and was curious why he didn’t let anybody know of his gift sooner.
"The main trait Griggs displayed was esprit de corps," said Bueno. "I believe his love of conveying the Marine Corps and its history through art helped him maintain a positive attitude throughout training."
Griggs said he believes the values and traits instilled by the Marine Corps, such as discipline and integrity, will help him with his art and aid him in his ongoing search for self-improvement.
"I think joining the Marine Corps was the best thing I could have done because it supplies me with the best way to find out the full potential of what I have to offer myself and others around me," said Griggs.