TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Paul Kelley, 32, military working dog handler, from Mercedes, Texas reflects on his life and time in the Corps.
Marine Corps. Cpl. Paul Kelley, military working dog handler, Combat Center's Provost Marshal's Office, plays with his dog, Collie, at the K9 kennels on November 1, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. D. J. Wu
I've tried a little bit of anything and everything, maybe too much of some things.
I grew up as a military brat. I knew this was something I wanted to do. So when I finally did it everyone asked me, “What took you so long?” I guess I was just distracted with girls and cars.
I'm from south Texas like south, south Texas, basically northern Mexico.
I moved back home after a long relationship. I was working a night job and going to school during the day and trying to figure out what I wanted. I wanted to work for the state department and work diplomatic security.
I did my research and figured out what I needed to do. I double dipped and got my bachelor's degree in criminal justice and political science.
Another thing people asked me was why I went enlisted. Well, I did my homework and found out about the Marine security guard and that was something I wanted to do.
My first duty station was Okinawa and that was all the field side of the military police field. I got to go on a deployment to Afghanistan. I met some dog handlers out there. I loved it, it was a great experience.
When I got back from that deployment, a spot opened up for K9. They came and asked me if I wanted it and I said, “Sure,” right away. It's a little off from what I originally entered for but, my dad used to be a K9 handler for a police department back home, so knew what it was kind of like already.
I like animals. I had all kinds of animals growing up, weird ones too. I had hedgehogs, ferrets, snakes and scorpions too. I've always loved different kinds of animals.
Ford Mustangs, I think they're just amazing. I've had seven in my past. Right now I have a 1971 Mach 1 in silver ingot, that's my baby and a 1995 Cobra Mustang. Those are back in Texas hopefully I'm going to bring them out here pretty soon, because I hear there a lot of car shows in the area. I love all Mustangs. I love tinkering with them and doing things with them.
I'm sappy when it comes to traditions. That's one of the reasons I like the Marine Corps so much, is because of the traditions. With the Ford Mustang I think there's a lot of that American Pride and that tradition and history behind it.
I remember my dad had a 1978 Cobra II, the one that Farrah Faucet drove in “Charlie's Angels” that was like my first memory of a Mustang. It just stuck with me.
It's funny because I like baking too. It's weird because I'll be outside working on my Mustang and be covered in oil but have to get up run inside to get my cookies out of the over before they burn. I like that kind of stuff.
I grew up really, Hispanic-Mexican oriented. It's all about family and food, tons and tons of food.
A lot of times when people come into the Marine Corps, it gives people a certain mindset. I spent 10 years in the civilian life before I came in at 28. I've had 10 years of working and school in civilian life.
A lot of things in the Marine Corps I can really appreciate, but some things are just irritating. There is red tape that you have to get through sometimes. I just want to get things done quickly.
To me, the Marine Corps is one of the easiest jobs I've ever had. Yes, it's demanding physically and mentally, but as far as what I do, I love it. To me, I tell the guys, I get to play G.I. Joe every day. Now with K9, I love it even more. Not many people get to say that.
I don't know if I'm going to keep doing this. As much as I like the Marine Corps, I knew where I wanted to go before the Marine Corps. Different experiences can change that, so I don't know.
By USMC Cpl. D. J. Wu
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