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Marine Corps Officer Giving Life Everything He Has
by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Sarah Ralph
February 26, 2021

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gordon Emmanuel did not come into this world with the brightest path, or under the most positive circumstances. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York as the son to two Haitian immigrants.

U.S. Marine Corps Major Gordon Emmanuel, the commanding officer for Recruiting Station Orange County, poses for a photo in Santa Ana, California on Feb. 21, 2021. In honor of National Black History Month, Maj. Emmanuel discussed his life story and how he got to where he is today as a United States Marine. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Ralph)The environment he was born into was relatively rough and was not the best conditions for a child. Gordon’s household could be described as tumultuous, and a place where he felt as if he was facing adversity inside as well as outside.

“Many times people attribute adversity as a negative, but much of the adversity that I have experienced has resulted in positive gain,” says Emmanuel. “For example, Marine Corps training, deployments, and leadership challenges were all tough things to encounter, but finding a way to get the job done has done more good for me than negative.”

Growing up, Emmanuel was a witness to a lot of examples of failures in life and knew from a young age that those examples were not the one’s he wanted to emulate or become.

“Even though the environment that I grew up in was relatively rough, it gave me an appreciation for the different ways that someone can grow up, either successful or fail,” explains Emmanuel.

During his freshman year of high school when selecting electives to take, Emmanuel randomly selected Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. This was the first encounter he ever had with Marines in general, and since day one of the class he was hooked.

Emmanuel was finally able to experience great leadership and was provided the perfect example of what “success” could look like.  During Emmanuel’s sophomore year of high school, he watched the fall of New York’s Twin Towers on television.

“After watching my Marine instructor handle that situation it made me realize that I had likely found my purpose. I knew that I would be joining the Marine Corps from that point forward,” says Emmanuel.

During his senior year of high school in 2003, he brought a Marine Corps recruiter to his house so his parents could sign the consent form to enlist into service since he was only 17.

“Literally, the U.S. Marines were on CNN- at war in Iraq while a recruiter was trying to convince my parents to let me join,” say Emmanuel. “My parents did not sign the consent. They said if I was going to go to war it would have to be completely my decision. I was extremely upset.”

Due to his parents refusing to sign a waiver to allow Emmanuel to enter the Delayed Entry Program, his plans changed in joining the Corps when he turned 18, which would have been seven months after graduating high school. He ended up signing up for community college and during the first week of classes came into contact with a Marine officer recruiter.

“He took me to his office and I found myself in officer training the next summer. If it wasn’t for bumping into him, I would have enlisted in December 2003. It’s funny how the world works,” says Emmanuel. “I sometimes regret not having the opportunity to enlist, but then I get over it and recognize that I am lucky to be serving in any capacity. I knew nothing about the officer route in high school.”

In 2007, Emmanuel was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps after graduating from the University of Central Florida. He went into the Marine Corps as an infantry officer, which led to a multitude of opportunities throughout his career such as; deploying during Operation Enduring Freedom, assisting in Operation Moshtarak, and being selected to become a part of the Commandant’s Career Level Education Board.

Currently, Maj. Emmanuel is the Commanding Officer or Recruiting Station Orange County in California, with the mission of contracting and enlisting the brightest and most talented men and women in the nation to serve as Marines.

“What drives me every day is a sense of purpose and service,” says Emmanuel. “I am on a mission to give. I am on a mission to set the example for the Marines that I serve alongside as well as for my children. I am on a mission to be the best husband, father, and professional, and ensure that my gifts are not wasted. I would like to be on my deathbed feeling completely exhausted, but fulfilled knowing that I gave everything that I had to the people that matter the most.”

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