TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Marines all over the Marine Corps get moved from station to station and climb the ranks on the way. At the heart of 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Headquarters and Support Company, a new company commander, Captain Eric Mattoon, 29, from Hilton Head, S.C., just took command in early November, 2014.
Mattoon has seen a good portion of the Marine Corps in his still young career and it all started with his decision to join the Junior Navy Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
Captain Eric Mattoon, 29, from Hilton Head, S.C., the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Headquarters and Support Company Commander stands in front of an amphibious assault vehicle during training exercise Steel Knight aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 14, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. John Baker)
“I've always wanted to join the military and then, in high school, I joined a Navy JROTC and that's where I learned all the differences between the different branches,” said Mattoon. “Being so close to Parris Island, we would go over there and see the Marines, and that's when I knew that I wanted to be a Marine.”
Unlike many aspiring young men and women, Mattoon didn't enlist at his first opportunity; instead he chose the longer path, which led him to the rank and position that he holds today.
“I went straight from high school to college and immediately started applying for the officer selection programs,” said Mattoon. “I ended up getting selected to the Platoon Leader's Class.”
After being selected, Mattoon attended Officer Candidate School over the summers of his freshman and junior years of college. Upon his graduation, Mattoon was commissioned into the Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant and reported to The Basic School that following July.
Since his commission, Mattoon has been serving in the Marine Corps for just shy of eight years.
“After graduating infantry school, I was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment,” said Mattoon. “I was stationed there for three years. We deployed to Iraq and then Afghanistan before I was moved to (Marine Corps Base) Quantico, Va.”
While serving out of Quantico, Mattoon was a part of the Marine Corps training command. He worked there for an additional three years before being sent to a five month long course, the Army Maneuver Captain Career Course, which is an infantry captain level course. From there, he was finally sent to his current command.
After his stay as the H&S company commander, Mattoon said he would like to be assigned to a line company as their company commander. He would also like to one day become an operations officer for an infantry battalion.
Mattoon said he will be in the Marine Corps until he can no longer serve. He quite simply just loves being around Marines.
“It's been great working with Marines; they're so motivated and love their job,” said Mattoon. "When I talk to people about work, they make it seem like their coworkers just show up to collect a paycheck. Here in the Marine Corps, the Marines are really dedicated and it's a totally different environment that you won't find anywhere else.”
Along with the people, Mattoon also likes the responsibility and the unique situations that the Marine Corps has given him.
During his deployment to Iraq, Mattoon was in charge of his own platoon. They worked alongside the Iraqi border patrol and would go out every night looking for smugglers along the Syrian border.
“It was a lot of responsibility; I definitely matured a lot there because there was nobody looking over my shoulder,” said Mattoon. “It was just us; I was 23 years old and in charge of a whole platoon with five vehicles. Nowhere else in the world would you be able to do that kind of stuff.”
Along with his growing maturity, Mattoon also learned skills and saw different lifestyles in his deployments that not many people will get the chance to experience.
“I learned how to work with people from different cultures,” said Mattoon. “Understanding the cultures is huge, the way they view the world is way different than an American views it. I learned about their life and how it was growing up in their countries and overall they were really nice to me and my Marines.”
Many Marines never know where the Marine Corps may send them or what they may have to do. The future is unpredictable but with a positive outlook like Mattoon's, Marines will always find a way to push forward.
“Stay motivated and no matter where the Marine Corps puts you, do the best you can,” said Mattoon, “As long as you keep a positive outlook on everything you do and you see everything as a learning experience, you will walk away a better person.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. John Baker
Provided through DVIDS
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