As a kid growing up on the streets of Baltimore City, Maryland, I found more opportunities for bad deeds than good. But I had my grandfather’s and father’s military service to look up to; they had both served in the Army during World War II.
My father passed away in 1970, and my mother did her best to raise five kids, but there was no shortage of struggles for her and for me. I needed to help support my mother and siblings, so I quit school in the 10th grade. I always wanted something bigger and more exciting in my life. I wanted off the streets and out of my dead-end town; that is where the Army comes into the picture.
It was the Fall of 1978 when I joined the Army Reserves. For the next six years of my life, I served at Fort Meade, Maryland, and while there, I finally graduated from high school.
When my service in the Reserves ended, I attended community college and earned my Associate’s Degree. After graduation, I couldn’t find a job that challenged me, so I turned back to the Army and enlisted, this time in the regular Army; it was 1986.
With any start of service, there is always an ending, but I kept returning.
Over the course of my military career, I served in the Army Reserves, the regular Army, and the Maryland National Guard. My Army life has taken me all over the world and has been the catalyst for knowledge and experience at a level I could never have imagined. I admit I would not be where I am today had I not decided to return to school. Returning to school didn’t just earn a diploma; it allowed me to continue a lifelong quest for knowledge, and I have the Army to thank for that. I was blessed to be mentored, selected, and recognized by my fellow leaders and soldiers.
It was December 31, 2015, when I proudly retired after 37 years and 8 months in service. It was a day filled with the support of my brothers and sisters in arms. I spent part of that special day reflecting on my life of military service. I had entered service as an enlisted soldier who had dropped out of high school and retired as a Senior Warrant Officer with a master’s degree. As I contemplated retirement, I realized I was entering a different journey of service. I would discover how to transition from a large family of fellow military soldiers to living with a much smaller, more special family. The most important thing in my life today is to be able to spend the rest of my days with my lovely wife and our children.
I often wonder what life would have been like had I not chosen to join the Army. I would not have been able to share leadership skills with, fight alongside, or mentor some of the finest soldiers in the world.
CW4 Edgar O. Marquis Jr.
Uniform in the 29th Division Museum in Virginia
The Global War On Terror
Written By: Edgar O. Marquis, Jr, Retired