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Texas Marine Follows Model From Family To Help Others
by U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dustin Fugate - February 23, 2014

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NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Fort Worth — On a warm spring day, a female Marine walks into Irving High School in Irving, Texas looking sharp in her dress blue uniform. She is surrounded by slamming lockers and students hurrying in every direction. She was ready to spread the word of the Marine Corps.

While there, the Marine found a young lady who was extremely motivated but needed some help to reach her goals. The young Hispanic girl was going to school, working and helping her family, but she couldn't pass the military education entrance test.

“She was motivated but needed help keying in on her goal,” said Sergeant Darlissa Leatherwood, the legal chief for the 8th Marine Corps District. “So I took her under my wing.”

Leatherwood spent a number of days with the young lady reading and studying. She would exchange calls and texts with her young prot�g� on a regular basis. During their time together, the women began to see themselves more like sister rather than just friends. After months of studying, the young girl passed the test.

Sergeant Darlissa Leatherwood, the legal chief for the 8th Marine Corps District, carries Gatorade to people participating in a charity event. Leatherwood volunteers when ever she can because of the model set by her family. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alfredo Ferrer, September 16, 2013)
Sergeant Darlissa Leatherwood, the legal chief for the 8th Marine Corps District, carries Gatorade to people participating in a charity event. Leatherwood volunteers when ever she can because of the model set by her family. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alfredo Ferrer, September 16, 2013)

Their relationship didn't end there.

“I had no doubt in my mind that she would pass the test,” said Leatherwood. “She actually did better than I expected, but I knew there would be more obstacles along the way. My job wasn't finished yet.”

Leatherwood still works with the youthful aspiring Marine continuously with physical training and keeping her motivation up. The young girl reports to recruit training next month, but she wouldn't be prepared for the challenge without the help from Leatherwood.

“I'm glad I had a positive effect on her,” said the Leatherwood. “I can't wait to see her become a Marine.”

Leatherwood is dedicated to service and duty because of the model set for her by her family.

“My mom taught me it's good to give back,” said Leatherwood.

She recalls when she was younger, children from her neighborhood came to her house because they didn't have the means for a great meal. Also, her mother would volunteer feeding the homeless at soup kitchens.

Leatherwood, like her mother, enjoys helping people. She volunteers at many district activities, whether they involve the color guard events, sports, school talks, her husband's recruiting events, or civilian events.

Leatherwood said one of her favorite times volunteering was at Recruiting Station Oklahoma City. The recruiting station has a quarterly function for all the female poolees, where they invite female Marines to speak with the applicants about recruit training, participate in physical training, and simply spend time with them.

“The reason I volunteer so much is because I just enjoying helping people,” said Leatherwood.

Leatherwood joined the Marine Corps because of her husband, Sgt. Timothy Leatherwood, a recruiter at Recruiting Substation Lewisville. She took note of his confidence and his strong demeanor, and that was something she wanted in her life.

“I'm in competition with my husband, but he doesn't know it,” said Leatherwood, a Memphis, Tenn. native.

She said that he is the standard of a Marine that she wants to be. He is first class in his physical fitness and combat fitness test, has no problem correcting people if they are wrong, and pretty much “meritorious everything”, so she has to be at her best at all times.

“He keeps me motivated, because I see him still going, and if he's still going, I should keep going,” said Leatherwood.

She explained that his original Marine occupational specialty is crash fire and rescue, so on his free time, he volunteers at a local fire department. A loss of life is possible in his job and extra duties. She sees him move on from those experiences, and she thinks “why, can't I move on from the little things that happen in my life.”

Leatherwood will continue to her volunteer work, but her career might take a turn. Leatherwood is putting together her Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program package and is slated to be on a board in June 2014. If she is selected, she will get to receive her degree and then become an officer in the Marine Corps.

“I feel that being selfless and helping other people is paramount to being a great Marine,” said Leatherwood. “It shows that you would be willing to sacrifice your life for someone else, in my opinion, so for me I won't stop volunteering. I want to be able to do all I can to help others. I feel that it makes me a better person even if I don't receive recognition for what I am doing or have done in the past. That is what being a Marine is all about.”

By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dustin Fugate
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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