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More Than A Marine
by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Alize Sotelo
December 19, 2022

Ten seconds on the clock, looking left, the defense is tight; looking right, your teammate is too deep. What would you do?

The United States Marine Corps offers Marines more than an opportunity to serve their country. Benefits such as education, family resources, and the chance to participate in the All-Marine sports teams.

1st Lt. George Kiernan, a financial management officer with I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, was one of the few afforded the privilege to be part of the 2022 U.S. Marine Corps Men’s basketball team.

Left - U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. George Kiernan, a financial management officer with I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, sits on a small boulder near his office at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California on November 15, 2022. Right - Kiernan signals for the basketball in a game against the Navy team during the 2022 Armed Forces Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championship at Naval Base San Diego, California on November 7, 2022.. The tournament was hosted at Admiral Prout Fieldhouse, Naval Base San Diego, in order to promote friendly competition and unity between services. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alize Sotelo.)
Left - U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. George Kiernan, a financial management officer with I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, sits on a small boulder near his office at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California on November 15, 2022. Right - Kiernan signals for the basketball in a game against the Navy team during the 2022 Armed Forces Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championship at Naval Base San Diego, California on November 7, 2022.. The tournament was hosted at Admiral Prout Fieldhouse, Naval Base San Diego, in order to promote friendly competition and unity between services. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alize Sotelo.)

The Chicago, Illinois native’s spark for basketball started at age five; he would pass the ball around with his family during the holidays. A fun hobby of playing basketball quickly found a special place in his heart, opening many doors for his future.

“Through basketball, I was given the opportunity to go to a school that allowed me to become a Marine Corps officer,” said Kiernan.

In 2014, Kiernan was accepted into the United States Naval Academy and played for the men’s basketball team from 2015 through 2019. He received the David Robinson award and the Paul Evans Most Improved Player award twice during his time on the team. Upon graduation, he commissioned and became a Marine Corps officer in June 2019.

“I wanted to be a Marine Corps officer because they were the ones that stood above the rest when it came to everything,” said Kiernan. “Their professionalism, confidence, interest in taking care of Marines and truly loving the Marines to their left and right. They work as a team.”

While deployed with Marine Rotational Force-Darwin 22, Kiernan was contacted by Capt. Brandon Mitchell, a coach for the 2022 U.S. Marine Corps Men’s basketball team. Mitchell communicated to Kiernan that he was selected to play for the 2022 Armed Forces Basketball Championship because of his experience playing at the USNA.

“The opportunity to be part of and play on the basketball team was incredible,” said Kiernan. “We got together as a team within three weeks, and learned how to work with each other, our strong and weak points.”

Kiernan compares the preparation of the championships to how Marines prepare for battle.

“That is how we can prepare to win wars, to come together, understand our strengths and weaknesses, and grow together as a unit,” said Kiernan. "On the basketball team, we have a common goal, like the Marine Corps, to win.”

For Kiernan, his first year on the team was a memorable experience. He helped his team win second place in the 2022 Armed Forces Basketball Championship, the first time in eleven years. The Marine Corps is comprised of individuals with unique talents that enable the organization to accomplish great wins, on and off the court.

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