Cpl. Mark Garcia, Regional Command Southwest
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – As a senior in high school, Pfc. Clifford Dietrich made the decision to defend his country. A year and a half later he was on his way to Afghanistan.
Dietrich, a data helpdesk clerk with Regimental Combat Team 7, graduated high school during June 2011. Four months later, he was on his way to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. After graduating from recruit training and completing training for his job, Dietrich was stationed at Twentynine Palms, Calif. Two months later he was on his way to Afghanistan.
“Originally, I wasn’t expecting to come out to Afghanistan until half way through the deployment, but the date got moved up,” said Dietrich, from Ocala, Fla. “I had only been in the fleet for two months before they sent me out here. But this deployment has gone pretty good. I’ve been able to learn a lot about my job.”
Joining the military is not common in the Dietrich family, but he joined the Marine Corps to pave his own path in life.
“I’m the first member of my family to join any branch of the military,” Dietrich said. “I wanted to better myself and find a way to support my wife and pay for college. The military was the way to fulfill all those goals.”
Dietrich chose to become a Marine after listening to a friend’s father about his time serving in the Marine Corps.
“What he told me about all his experiences and how much he enjoyed the Marine Corps pushed me toward joining the Marines,” Dietrich said.
Dietrich chose his current job because he wanted to get as much experience and knowledge in the information technology field as possible. Before enlisting in the Marines, Dietrich had completed a few classes in college. While deployed, he fixes computers and helps people with any account issues they may have.
“He gets everything done that I tell him to do,” said Sgt. Jeff Bergquist, data helpdesk supervisor. “He’s a pretty reliable guy when it comes to completing tasks. Even though he’s only been with us for a little bit, he’s been good and has been learning as much as he can about his job.”
The Marine Corps celebrated its 237th birthday, Nov. 10. As tradition, Dietrich, the youngest Marine present during RCT-7’s ceremony, received the second piece of cake from the oldest Marine present. For Dietrich, this was a first. Dietrich was a recruit going through recruit training during his first Marine Corps birthday.
“It was an honor to be there with the oldest Marine,” Dietrich said. “When I was going through boot camp I never thought I would be in this position. I feel honored I got the opportunity to participate in the Marine Corps ball while deployed to Afghanistan.”
For Dietrich, his participation in the ball was a humbling experience.
“I was standing next to the oldest Marine we have in the regiment and one of the longest serving Marines we have. Just getting a chance to do a ceremony with him was amazing,” Dietrich said. “It was something I got to go through that not too many Marines will ever get the chance to do, so it was a great experience.”