||Everything I need in the Marine Corps, I learned at Centre
Alumnus Kevin Trimble '94 writes on serving his country with the help of his "Centre Experience"
RELEASED: Sept. 25, 2003
DANVILLE, KY Having just read the spring 2003 Centrepiece, I'm happy to see so many fellow alumni wearing the uniform of our country. Though I've never met many of those featured, I can see by their words and actions that they, too, consider their Centre experience the foundation for getting them where they are today.
I have been deployed myself for 13 of the past 24 months to Pakistan, Djibouti, and Iraq and look back at my four years at Centre as a springboard which has gotten me this far in life. Reading about the lives and experiences of all our fellow alumni, I was amazed to realize that so many Centre graduates are in the business of service. By service, I mean helping others, but also I believe this means working with others as part of something greater than ourselves. In other words, teamwork.
I ask myself, how is it that a school of around 1,050 students can produce so many doctors, lawyers, teachers, military officers and even police officers?
The answer to this lies in the whole Centre experience. Of all the diverse Centre alumni I've learned of, each one in some way made the most of their Centre experience. Whether it was a fraternity or sorority, varsity sport, intramural team or student organization, these people did more than just go to class, eat at Cowan and study in their room. They got out of their comfort zone, didn't pack their bags at the first sign of adversity and faced the new world in front of them.
Anyone who's ever spent a single semester in Danville knows the academics at Centre are first rate, but some of the most profound lessons dont materialize until later in life. I remember Dr. Walter Nimocks [professor emeritus] taught a history class about the Pacific Rimnot easy to comprehend when you were thinking about everything going on in the quad on a spring afternoon. Amazingly though, it came back to me quite clearly when I sailed into Singapore Harbor. If I had known that Phuket Thailand would be like Richmond, Ky., on a Thursday night, maybe I would have paid better attention.
In the past nine years the classes I took have paid off in ways I could have never imagined. Dr. Michael Hamm's [Boles Professor of History] map test? I'm thankful for that pain. Try being in Karachi, Pakistan, when a bomb blows up at the consulate and you have to get yourself and 100 of your friends from the airport to the consulate with just a 5x7 black and white strip map. But, hey, not a problem, Ive seen this one before in class.
Though these classes have made wild men into doctors and poor folk into millionaires, I look back and see the greatest lesson Centre College ever offered was about teamwork in the face of adversity.
As an infantry company commander for the past two years, the lessons in teamwork that I learned as a fraternity pledge, a member of the football team and even as an actor in a play, have on more than one occasion saved lives, including my own.
When people are shooting at you there is no such thing as timeout or a chance to talk about it. You must instinctively take action and do what needs to be done. The only way such action is possible, be it in a firefight, a courtroom, a boardroom or even when all they are shooting are words, is for the team to think and act as one.
This team-player attitude is what sets the Centre graduate apart from graduates of many other schools.
The Marine Corps is very much like Centre College. It's the smallest of all the services and not just anybody can get in. Like Centre, the Marine Corps prides itself on having a proud and active "alumni association."
I have found the Marine Corps most like Centre in that there is no way you can fully experience it if you try and do it all by yourself. Teamwork is imperative in both places and teamwork through adversity creates bonds that are permanent.
Upon graduation both Gary Harrison '94 and I joined the Marine Corps with visions of adventure and serving our country. As both fellow Marines and Centre graduates, ironically, we have encountered each other on and off for nine years.
Recently, while in Iraq, we both went north separately at the kick-off initially thinking about everything but a Centre reunion. But Centre came to Iraq as Gary landed his helicopter and heard my battalion was at the field. When he came walking up, it was like nothing had changed since 1994. We talked about everything from how Dr. Milton Scarborough [professor of philosophy and religion] should take his world religions class here on a field trip, to the fact that football coach Andy Frye would have a clear sense of the tide of battle: Smells like victory, he would say. We put the world behind us and talked about Centre.
Since 1994 Ive had the pleasure to serve with Harrison, Brian Mateja '94, Mark Hall '94, Doug Bryant '94, Rob Kosid '87, Richard Corbett '91, Rob Gerlaugh '75, Paul Attbury '87 and Centre Marines I have yet to meet on duty. Every time I spoke to these people, the conversation was not about war, promotions or infantry tactics; it was about running the flame, Spivey's at 2 a.m., fraternity pledging, beating Rhodes and all the other things at Centre that shaped our lives.
Upon graduating from Centre (barely), I can only say I had little idea what Id learned there. Looking back nine years later, I learned everything I need to know.
The people on your left and right and even the ones at the podium were, and still are, the reason Centre is Centre and everywhere else is just a place to go to school.
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