Story by Cpl. Justin Boling, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).
Each fall, parents watch with pride as their sons and daughters attend their first day of school, or take on new responsibilities as they head to college.
This fall in Afghanistan, one father was able to watch his son assume a new level of responsibility as a U.S. Marine when he became one of the Corps’ noncommissioned officers.
When Cpl. Nathan Hunter, an embarkation clerk with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), was promoted to his current rank in Afghanistan, on Sept. 1, fate allowed his father and mentor, Master Gunnery Sgt. James Hunter, to be present and to pin new corporal chevrons on his son.
“I always wanted to follow in my father and older brother’s footsteps and be a Marine,” said Nathan, who calls New Bern, N.C., home. “It meant a lot to have my father present when I was promoted.”
According to the master gunnery sergeant, he always knew that his sons would grow up to be Marines. Even when they were very young, James said, Nathan and Mitchell would run and physically train with their father.
Nathan has been deployed to Camp Leatherneck for the past seven months in support of the air combat element for the NATO International Security Assistance Force in southwestern Afghanistan. In July, James deployed to serve with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 40 as head of the squadron’s maintenance department.
“I think having a family member present makes a deployment a little bit easier,” said James, originally from West Palm Beach, Fla. “Anytime that I miss my family I can always call or email him and we try to eat meals together and enjoy each other’s company.”
Though away from their homes, the deployment brought the father and son geographically closer. With James working at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., and Nathan being stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., the two did not regularly spend time together.
Although separated, Nathan can always rely on his father to be a trusted source of help when needed.
“My dad has always been there to give me advice to set me on the right path,” Nathan said. “My father’s experience has helped me a great deal both personally and professionally.”
Nathan’s promotion also ironically falls right in line with a similar milestone in his father’s career.
“Twenty-seven years ago next month, I pinned on corporal while deployed in the western Pacific,” James said. “So it is really fitting to have my son pick up at this point in both of our lives.
“When I look at him I see a reflection of my youth and the wonderment of beginning a new path in life,” James added with a smile.
For Nathan becoming a Marine Corps noncommissioned officer means a new role in the Marine Corps.
“Although I am still technically the junior Marine in my work section the rank still means higher expectation from my leadership as well as many new responsibilities,” Nathan said.
As Marines are promoted, they bring with them new ideas while still enforcing long-held high standards. These new ideas and leaders are what allow the Corps to maintain its status as America’s force in readiness.
“I have been in for 29 years and I have watched the Marines Corps change,” James said. “The Marines of today are very smart and technically savvy as well as being quick studies.
“My son is a member of this new generation of Marines with a very bright future ahead of him.”
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