U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Russell Bridges Marine Travels the World through Corps
By Lance Cpl. Roger L. Nelson
Marine Corps Base Hawaii
KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii, Jan. 4, 2006 - Sgt. Russell L. Bridges, noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Base Operations, Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, said the events of his past have made him push to be a better person.
"I've been on my own since I was 14, because I was emancipated from my parents," said Bridges. "They had their problems and it wasn't a good environment for me, so my grandmother was given guardianship of me.
[caption id="attachment_3192" align="alignleft" width="304"] U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Russell D. Bridges, noncommissioned officer-in-charge, base operations, Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, has been in the Marine Corps for more than seven years, said his grandfather -- a former military police officer during Vietnam -- was only family member who pushed him to join the military. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Roger L. Nelson[/caption]
"Growing up with my grandma, I was really allowed to do pretty much whatever I wanted, as long as I stayed out of trouble," said 26-year-old Bridges. "She worked full-time in order to make ends meet, but did a good job raising me."
As a junior in high school Bridges decided he wanted to join the military with his friends."Growing up with my grandma, I was really allowed to do pretty much whatever I wanted, as long as I stayed out of trouble," said 26-year-old Bridges. "She worked full-time in order to make ends meet, but did a good job raising me."
"I originally was going to join the Army because all of my friends were doing it," he said. "We were going to do the whole buddy system thing. One of my friends actually took me to the Marine recruiter, and when I was talking to him, he asked what I was doing next summer. I told him I was going to Army boot camp, and he said, €˜No you're not, you're going to Marine Corps boot camp,' and that's how I got to be where I am today."
Bridges enlisted in the Marine Corps as an engineer, going through boot camp at Marine Corps Recruiting Depot, Parris Island, S.C.
"My family was very supportive of my decision to join the military," said the native of Alton, Ill. "My grandma just wasn't thrilled that I chose the Marine Corps over the others, but still backed me. My grandfather served as a military police officer in the Air Force during Vietnam and retired as a senior enlisted, so he was really the only person who pushed me to join."
Bridges explained that a lot of his friends ended up being "grunts," but he was interested in demolition, which is why he joined as an engineer.
"I didn't like doing humps; but I loved demolition, so I knew it was for me," said Bridges. "I'm glad I chose it because I really like it, and it turned out to be really cool."
Bridges has been in the Marines for more than seven years and has been to many different places.
"Before I was in the military, the only place I had ever been to was Mexico - on a church trip," he said. "Since I've been in, I've been to Iraq, all over Europe, Spain, Italy, Jordan, Egypt, and a lot of other interesting places."
Bridges was in Operation Iraqi Freedom and returned to Hawaii in March. While deployed, his job billet was staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge for information operations.
"I volunteered to go to Iraq, so it was awkward. I was scared from time to time, but was never in an actual fire fight," Bridges said. "Our biggest threat was indirect fire. You would hear bombs going off in the distance and then they would stop, so you would have no clue where the next one is going to go off."
He said that if it were up to him, he would not like to be deployed again, but wouldn't mind if he had to go.
"Everybody asks if it's a different lifestyle in Iraq," said Bridges. "They have their good and bad people there."
Bridges said that he is unsure as to what the future holds for him, but believes he will want to retire from the Marine Corps.
"As it looks now I'm going to do my 20 years and retire," he said. "But it's hard to say what's going to happen in the future. If I do decide to get out, I'd be interested in being on a special weapons and tactics team somewhere."