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Old 03-21-2004, 05:21 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool MCB Hawaii Staff Sgt. turns it around

MCB Hawaii Staff Sgt. turns it around
Submitted by: MCB Hawaii
Story Identification Number: 2004319201548
Story by Cpl. Monroe F. Seigle

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay(March 19. 2004) -- At age 14, a young man who walked the streets of San Diego, Calif., joined a gang, and within no time was witnessing assaults and robberies - almost being shot in the face at point-blank range when he walked into a drug deal gone bad.

Anybody who knew that young man in the prime of his youth would have had a very hard time believing he would one day be a leader in the world's finest fighting force, the U.S. Marine Corps.

Staff Sgt. Maynard Amat, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Pass and Regulation with the Military Police Company aboard MCB Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, will tell you he was a juvenile delinquent growing up in San Diego. He dropped out of Mount Miguel High School and went back four times before he finally finished and graduated in the class of 1984.

"I had quit school and was in a gang called the 'Samoan Warriors'," said Amat. "I wasn't Samoan, but since I stayed with a Samoan family in the neighborhood when my parents kicked me out of the house, they considered me one of their own and let me in their gang. We had our territory, and honestly, all the things we were involved in were just leading me to a dead end."

It wasn't long after his scrape with death, that the young Amat realized that he needed to make some drastic changes in his life. After seeing several of his friends get arrested or robbed, he made a final effort to graduate high school and earn his diploma.

"After I graduated high school, I decided I wanted a challenge," recalled Amat. "I talked to recruiters in every branch of the service, but none of them appealed to me like the Marine Corps did. I knew it would be a challenge, and it would get me away from a life of crime."

Barely 18 years of age, the young Amat was on his way to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, to begin his venture as a Marine. Although he was searching for a challenge, recruit training was more than he expected.

"One of my hardest problems in boot camp was laughing when other recruits got into trouble," recalled a smiling Amat. "Once the drill instructors caught onto the fact that I thought everything was funny, they decided [that] when every other recruit was to be punished with exercises, I was going to be as well. I quickly learned not to laugh."

Within a few months, the former gangster was wearing new colors. This time, they were the colors on a dress uniform representing the U.S. Marine Corps.

Amat received orders to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for military occupational specialty school. He was soon to become a military police officer.

"Being a Marine was great in itself, but the greatest accomplishment I had in my career was becoming an agent in the Criminal Investigation Division," recalled a confident Amat. "I felt I had something to offer being that I learned a lot about crime growing up."
From 1995-2000, while Amat was stationed at MCB Hawaii, he was a part of the statewide gang task force in Hawaii. He assisted in the breakdown and eventual prosecution of local Oahu gangs, sending the majority of their members to the confines of a state prison.

Amat often recalls his time on the streets of San Diego. A lot of familiar faces are no longer present when he goes home on leave. They are either dead or in jail.

"I remember when I was stationed in MCRD; one of the kids I knew growing up somehow found my house and knocked on my door just to ask me how I managed to get out of the gang. I told him that he just had to set some goals for himself and remove [himself] from the environment he was in.

"That's the same thing I tell all the kids back home, and those that are a part of the Hawaii Youth at Risk Program. The lives of gangsters are short-lived and there is no future. They have to set goals for themselves."

Amat often tells at-risk youth that the Marine Corps was the best thing that ever happened to him. Although avid that the Marine Corps is the best choice, he tells them any branch of the service will make them a better person, and any will be the beginning of a brighter future.

"The Marine Corps did me wonders," emphasized Amat, who is scheduled to retire from active duty in the near future. "I will never forget where I came from and where I grew up. That will always be a part of me, and so will the Corps.

"The Marine Corps saved my life; therefore, it is the best part of me."

SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............
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