CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - One year ago, Hunter Bynum had been living with his family in the largest city of Alabama. He hadn't yet experienced stepping on the famous yellow footprints of Parris Island, South Carolina, never mind conquering the vigorous 13 weeks of training that would make him into the Marine he is today.
Bynum is a native of Birmingham, where he was raised by his mother, Kelly, and his father, Curt. He is the oldest of five children.
“My family owns a big farm,” said Bynum. “I loved working on my own land and the freedom that came with it.”
Even with the physically taxing and rewarding work at home, Bynum wanted a change of pace. He decided to contact a recruiter and continue his family's legacy in the United States Marine Corps.
“My dad and my granddad both served,” Bynum said. “I grew up seeing pictures of them in their dress blues, and hearing their stories. I decided I wanted to get up and get my own [stories].”
He describes himself as someone who enjoys standing out and being different. During his free time outside of work, he practices deep-sea fishing, hunting and hiking.
“That's definitely one of the reasons why I chose to become an infantryman,” Bynum said. “I love camping. I don't mind staying out in the field for one or two weeks at a time.”
Bynum reported to Parris Island on Sept. 15, 2014. Since then, he's graduated from boot camp and the School of Infantry, and has become proficient with a wide array of weapons, such as the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M240 Bravo medium-machine gun, and M67 fragmentation hand grenades. As an infantryman, and a SAW gunner with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Bynum practices his trade daily, through exercises supporting urban environment training, clearing buildings, maneuver under fire, and combat hunter skills.
Among the many challenges and new adventures he'd overcome in such a short amount of time during his career in the Marine Corps, Private First Class Hunter Bynum was faced with a unique opportunity.
More than 200 Marines from 1/6 traveled to Norfolk, Va., to board the USS Kearsarge, April 9-13, in support of Combined/Joint Operational Access Exercise (C/JOAX) 15.1. Bynum stood ready for this new amphibious experience.
“I don't really mind being on ship,” said Bynum. “This is my first time ever being on one. It's a good change of scenery, and it's a great experience.”
Bynum was open-minded about being aboard ship, although the sleeping quarters were cramped and the lines for chow were long. His non-commissioned officers stayed busy giving professional military education (PME) to their junior Marines, as well as leading exercises in the mornings and preparing them for the beach assaults they would be conducting via Amphibious Assault Vehicles and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters just a few days later.
“We are always training to be ready,” Bynum said. “I love being in the Marine Corps. I get to handle all kinds of weapons systems, and I love being able to travel like this.”
His battalion is gearing up for deployment in 2016 as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. Bynum is confident that with each new obstacle he faces, he will only be more ready for upcoming challenges.
“I'm ready for it,” Bynum said. “As infantrymen, we train to address the enemy head-on. Throughout our training, and tackling every situation that we usually wouldn't encounter, we will be better prepared for whatever will be thrown at us.”
Article and photo by U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kaitlyn Klein
Provided through DVIDS
The U.S. Marines | Comment on this article