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4th Marine Corps District

Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Returning to where his story began

By Sgt. Nicholas Lubchenko | PEO Land Systems | January 15, 2021

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U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Jonathon Sweet has returned to the community in which he grew up -- doing what he remises did not happen to him – informing young men and women about the opportunities the United States Marine Corps can provide.

At the age of 25, without clear direction in his life and a pile of student debt mounting, Sweet met a retired Marine whose stories changed his life.

“Well into my second year of college, I still felt I had no direction,” said Sweet, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Recruiting Substation Northern Michigan. “While pursuing a career in physical therapy I had started to work in a nursing home. During that time I was introduced to a gentlemen by the name of John Lockman. He was a 95-year-old, retired U.S. Marine. The amount of accomplishment and pride he had when speaking of his time in the Marine Corps soon became something I found myself longing for.”

While standing outside of Recruiting Substation Northern Michigan, where his Marine Corps journey started, Sweet said he cannot help but remember the respect that he held for the Marines who walked him through the process and earn the title that changed his life.
Now that he is back in his home community, Sweet loves to walk around town and meet with those he grew up with and used to work with.

“Talking to [the poolees] about the opportunities, experiences, and job security I’ve had throughout the last nine years is really eye opening to them,” said Sweet. “Many of them still have the same perception of the Military I had well before enlisting. I often hear, ‘Thinking back now, I should have joined too.’”

With a drive to help those around him Sweet and his family have purchased face mask supplies for local embroidery shops to donate to their community. While Sweet’s neighbors had a newborn, Sweet and his family would help out with errands to ensure that their neighbors could stay home and safe.

“The Marine Corps has without a doubt made me a better community member,” said Sweet. “I am far more disciplined, confident, and educated. I belong to something greater than myself and once you truly know that, it changes your outlook on life. It drives you to be the most productive member of society you’re able to be.”

While Sweet was training and living around the world, from California to Germany, he found that he prefers the warmer climates over the cold Michigan winters. However, Sweet says that working within his community makes the cold winters worth it.

“When you receive a phone call from a Marine that had recently graduated from boot camp thanking us, or the parents of these young Marines thanking you with tears in their eyes for everything we’ve done to help provide a better life for their son or daughter, there is no better feeling,” said Sweet.

Sweet encourages everyone to ensure that they have all the information they need to have the life that they want.

“Whether or not you are considering enlisting, you owe it to yourself to explore all options,” said Sweet. “Never deprive yourself of that despite what others say. My family and I love the lifestyle we live, and we have it because I simply decided to explore [the Marine Corps] further.”

His life has changed, his family grown, his outlook improved, and Sweet can only reminisce about the happenstance that set him on this new path and hope that others don’t have to rely on luck.


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