Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 17, 2013

Becoming a Marine -- twice

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — My journey to the Marine Corps started when I was young. My parents raised me to do the right thing and help those that need help. I never fully embraced that until I became a Marine. I left for recruit training as a 17-year-old boy and was returned to my family as a young man, U.S. Marine, and forever grateful. 

I decided on the Marines over the other military branches because everyone told me I wouldn’t make it. I needed to know I could do it. My parents didn’t want me to do it, which made me want to do it even more. I wasn’t ready for college and couldn’t decide what to do with my life after high school. The military made sense to me. It provided me with the challenge I needed and after four years I would have money for college and the experience of a lifetime. And that’s exactly what I did.

Once I returned home I was working at Delphi in Lockport and trying to go to college on line. I was one of the lucky veterans to get employment after leaving the military. Unfortunately I was bored. I enjoyed being home, but home had changed. I missed being a Marine. You develop a bond like no other with your brothers and sisters in arms. You feel responsible for the person to your left and right and sometimes their lives depend on you doing your job.

I received word around Christmas 2006 that two of my Marines were hurt in Iraq. There is always that possibility that it could happen but I felt responsible. I kept thinking back trying to remember if I taught my Marines all I could before I left. It took me a couple of months but I knew I had to do something. And that’s when I decided to return.

Being on a deployment is like living with people you love and people you hate for six months. You are with these people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You share food, gear, stories and much more. You develop bonds with these people that will never be broken and friendships that will last a lifetime. 

There is no privacy living in a tent with 20 people. In the early stages of the war in Iraq, even going to the bathroom was a challenge.

My vehicle’s only armor back then was a bulletproof windshield and quarter-inch steel doors with cutouts so you could see. Luckily, our understanding of the enemy and technology has both improved over the last decade.

Some things change, and some don’t. Ten years ago I didn’t think I’d be back in a foreign country still fighting a war. Well, here I am. Two tours in Iraq and currently on my second to Afghanistan. I’m now married with a 3-year-old son, and that changes everything. My whole perspective on life has changed. I’ll be proud to tell my son what I’ve done when this is all over. Hopefully he won’t have to grow up in a world at war.

Sgt. Joshua Bujalski is a a 2002 Roy-Hart graduate. He has agreed to periodically correspond with the Journal-Register until his return date in November.