MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDELTON, Calif. --
Unsure of what he wanted out of life, Sgt. Michael Clifton decided to take the challenge he was offered by a Marine Corps recruiter.
It was a decision the 24 year old from Galveston, Texas, would look back on as one of his greatest accomplishments of his life.
In this interview Clifton, an AN/TRC-170 technician with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit tells us how the unique challenges his job offers has made him a better person.
Q: What inspired you to join the Marine Corps?
A: It was one of those things a recruiter came up to me one day at work and said, “Hey, what are you doing with your life?” I said, “Nothing.” So I just went along with it and I felt like it was the best thing to do.
Q: What has been your best experience so far in your career?
A: A lot of good people; you meet a lot of good people. I came from Okinawa and it was a tight-knit group. It sucks when you get to know someone and they [permanent change of station], then you have to get to know new people and restart. You learn a good work ethic, priorities, and how to manage people.
Q: What skills do you bring to the fight and the MEU?
A: I maintain a general field of communication, like with the different platforms old and new. I have experience across a lot of them. If any sitcom system breaks I can fix it.
Q: What personal characteristics do you bring to the table?
A: I’m really good to work with, I’m a decent human being and treat people like they are adults. I try to teach them what I know.
Q: Has your job been difficult?
A: I have been put in a lot of different situations, like everyone started out on the bottom. I was already a lance corporal, because of how long I was in school. I was put in many situations where I have been a chief of something, which put me in a place to be the guy in charge of every electronic maintenance section. I’m in charge of a few different sections because I have a lot of experience.
Q: Where were you working when the recruiters approached you?
A: I was working at Walmart as a basket pusher. They asked me what I had in mind after school, and “I said I don’t know that’s actually a very good question.” I gave them my information and it skyrocketed after that.
Q: What kind of person were you in high school?
A: I stayed away from most people, I kept it limited. I had a few friends but I didn’t want to know everybody. I tried to keep myself busy with work and mostly kept to myself.
Q: Were people surprised when you decided to become a Marine?
A: Yes, they were. Especially because my grandfather was Army retired. I have a small family and he’s the only one I really knew that was in the service. I influenced my brother the most, he joined another branch.
Q: Can you walk me through a basic day?
A: First thing, [maintenance production report] we have many radio assets, data wire assets and a handful of sitcom assets. If there is a service request open on one then it will pop up on the MPR and if something is wrong we will fix it. Second thing, we will try to get work done from the previous day. We have many ongoing projects that we work on. If something is broken we will verify that it’s broken and finish the service request. Then any tasks that come down to us.
Q: How are you preparing your marines for deployment?
A: Make sure they know their jobs and billets. Personally I’ll ask them how they are doing, see if they need anything, and if I can’t solve their problem then I’ll find someone who can.
Q: How do you feel when you tackle a problem and you just don’t know the answer?
A: It gets pretty stressful because it’s where good contacts come in to play. You know people that have more experience with that gear than you, it’s really who you know. You should know your job but you can’t know everything. It can be fun and once you figure it out it’s an instant relief.
Q: What do you like about being a Marine?
A: I like having Marines, it’s nice. Obviously you still do your work, but it’s nice to have them to take the work load off of you, since I am responsible for the maintenance aspect. It’s good getting to know my Marines and where they come from.
For the Warrior Wednesday video on Clifton, visit our YouTube page at: http://youtu.be/oh9rEl7r6bY