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.
from south Texas like south, south Texas, basically northern
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
By USMC Cpl. D. J. Wu
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