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A Commander’s Heart

By Beau Higgins, Veteran Talent Expert & Marine

TRAVIS MANION was one of my Marines when he was killed. I was the commanding officer of the First Recon Battalion, and we were deployed to IRAQ in 2007. Travis was part of a training team that had been detached to train the Iraqi Police in the city of Fallujah. He was helping them patrol, learn techniques, and participate in the military’s assistance in building their infrastructure. Travis was out there that one day when a sniper killed him.

As a result, I have been part of the Travis Manion Foundation since day one. Truly, since day one. I became very close to his family. I was the one who had to call them shortly after Travis was killed. I learned that Travis had planned to run the Marine Corps Marathon with his Dad when he returned from Iraq. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but his Dad ran the race and wore both numbers. That was the start of an idea to do something to remember Travis’s Legacy. One of the first things they did that year was to have 10 runners run in Travis’s name. In the years following, they had 20 runners, then 50 runners, and so on.

In Service

I served in the Marine Corps for 25 years. While in service, I have been stationed in Guam, deployed to Somalia and Bosnia, and served three tours in Iraq and three tours in Afghanistan – all of the world’s garden spots. I loved being in Afghanistan because I could see the whole country. My work involved visiting little Afghan police units all over the country. The country itself, in some of the northern areas of the mountains, is beautiful. The people were great, and I enjoyed the food.

I wasn’t too impressed with Iraq, and Somalia was a disaster.

Fifteen years ago I helped develop and implement the Marine Corps Intelligence Schools. The Marine Corps used to only have two intelligence disciplines: signal intelligence and regular intelligence. They were adding new military occupational specialties: air intelligence, ground intelligence, and human intelligence for officers. We developed the curriculum to train these new officers in these specific disciplines. Later on, I went to Air War College. As you progress through your career, you have opportunities to go to school for an entire year. After being deployed so much, it is nice to get a degree in a classroom environment and be at home every night. The Air War College was great because it was Air Force—they havegreat golf courses!

I arrived at MacDill in 2009 and served there until 2012. During my time at MacDill, I actually spent another year in Afghanistan. During my first two years here, I worked in the J25 Intel Plan Shop at SOCCOM, and the last year I deployed to be part of the Combined Forces Special Operations Command in Kabul. After MacDill, I went to Camp LeJeune as a commanding officer of the Headquarters Battalion there. At Camp LeJeune, I was in charge of all our motor T, our communications guys, the division’s butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. But, we were still deployed to Afghanistan. The Marine Corps were running security for the big base we called Camp Leather Neck. My job was commanding officer, providing security for the base. The base had been attacked a few years before. The Taliban had gotten through the wire and blown-up some stuff. It was a coalition force while I was there. We had British, Jordanian, American, and Georgian troops assigned to the coalition with different pieces and parts of the security for the entire base.

It’s 2014, and I am ready to retire. But before that would happen, I was chosen to be in charge of all of the troops that went to New York City for Fleet Week. That was unbelievable. The experience is amazing. You wear your uniform there, you can ride the subway for free, and no one will let you buy a drink. It’s a great place to be for those marines, sailors, soldiers, and airmen who were there. We had events throughout the city. We wanted to make sure we hit all seven boroughs of New York.



“If people remember me as someone that puts others first and as a man for others, that would be the legacy I would like to have and strive to obtain.”


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