Serving in the Marine Corps was always a plan of mine. I remember arguing with my mother in my grandmothers’ kitchen, when I was 11, about going to the Marine Corps. My family wasn't very fond of the idea. In their eyes the Marine Corps only sends people to die. But I saw this differently. For me, it was about being strong, better than the rest and attaining an elite status. My understanding of the Marine Corps was compared to those who served in my family. I've had aunts and uncles in the Navy, Air Force and Army. They're experiences and results are what made me seek the Marine Corps. It was simply about wanting more than what the other branches had to offer and serving my country.
While serving in the Marine Corps I learned everything from radio communication, satellite communication, data and martial arts. I was given the opportunity to be a machine gunner, color bearer for the 2nd Marine Division Honor Guard, and an S-6 Chief as a corporal. The opportunities to be on the honor guard and fly to the Marshall Islands was a great opportunity I will never forget. Appreciating every moment in life is a mindset that becomes solidified more and more with each passing day.
It is widely known, life has its ups and downs. A realization I have come to understand, especially after doing a tour in Afghanistan. The situations presented allowed me to develop an unwavering optimistic mindset. While in Afghanistan I served proudly but my tour did not yield the best experience. I experienced everything from getting medically evacuated to recover in Germany to losing my brother Gavin Kopponen and multiple surgeries. Even with all of that I still remain positive. At the end of the day it’s about perspective. We choose to view life’s situations either optimistically or pessimistically. I will always, no matter what, remain optimistic about every experience in my life. I encourage everyone to do the same every day.
Mark-Anthony is a true professional. As a young Cpl (E-4) he was put in charge of a section normally lead by a Staff Sergeant (E-6) and lead the section firmly and fairly. His intelligence in data communications enabled him to provide the necessary leadership and customer service that the command was accustomed to. This was not by mistake. He proved himself time and again. As a Multi-Channel Wideband Operator, Mark-Anthony was put in charge of several teams to keep those links open. Vital communications transmitting over those lines, he learned what was transmitting over those lines in order to keep priority lines up without major interruption. He again proved himself flexible by attending and completing the Marine Corps Martials Arts Instructor program. Mark-Anthony's personality is electric and invigorating. He can put a smile on any customers face, making the customer feel at ease knowing the job will get done right. In the short time I have known him he has impressed me with a great work ethic, and can-do attitude. I knew that when he was given a task, I could walk away and focus on something else as Mark-Anthony would complete that task in a timely fashion and beyond expectations. He is very inquisitive which makes his thirst for knowledge limitless. He is multi-talented as he volunteered his time and talents to do retirement programs and invitations for me and several other senior enlisted Marines and Officers. His artwork is also phenomenal. He was very valuable to me as a Marine NCO. I would love to have him work for, and with me again, and I would not hesitate to work for him if the opportunity presented itself.
George Gubko Jr. - Information Systems Coordinator at Distribution Management Office