The reasons why many join the military are varied as the stars above. My reasons for enlisting shook up my family but helped usher me into manhood without me ever looking back. I was always curious about the military. I inquired about military service often during my high school years. But I also wanted to follow in the footsteps of my dad, Roger Holmes ’88; my uncle, Eric Holmes ’90; and my brother, Franz Holmes ’08, who are graduates of Tennessee State University (TSU). They also played sports at TSU.
As a freshman in the fall of 2009, my only care was being able to try out for the football team in the spring semester. While dreaming about football, I paid no attention to my grades. I was enrolled in school full time but my heart was not in it. By the second semester, I had lost track of any sense of order. Let me not forget the girls and partying were also part of my problem. Chaos seemed to rule my life.
In a chaotic state at every turn, I eventually got tired of drifting. I had a long conversation with myself. I did not want to be twenty-one years old and living at home with family with disorder as a way of life. I had squandered my first year of college on everything but getting an education. I wanted to be on my own but I knew I needed structure, discipline, and maturing. My curiosity about the military started to resurfaced again. After weeks of contemplating my future and getting counseling from family members who were in the military, I chose to join the United States Marines Corps.
The structure, discipline and maturity I craved, I got. And then some. I was bused to Parris Island with only my tooth brush and my driver’s license. I left behind my very bad freshmen year and was challenged mentally and physically that only the few, the proud could endure. After graduating from Parris Island, it did not take me long to realize that I chose the right path in life for me. I was doing something I loved and was honored to be a part of Marines. After my first year in the Marines, I began to inquire about becoming an officer. My mentor, Gunnery Sergeant Bryant, sat with me in a meeting to help me chart a military career. My life came full circle after that meeting. In order to become an officer, I needed to finish college.
Instead of the unsure immature person who enrolled in college in 2009, I came back to TSU confident with goals to become an officer, while still serving my country. I felt my life had a purpose and found my calling. I made my decision to join the military over two years ago. I believe that every step I took led me down that path. I have not looked back. While I am following in my dad, my uncle, and brother’s footsteps with an education from the family’s alma mater, I am also charting my own course as I continue to serve my country as a member of United States Marine Corps.
I am one of the few, the proud. I am a Marine. Semper Fi.
Lance Corporal Roger Cornelius Holmes, II is currently serving in the Marine Corp Reserves. He returned to Tennessee State University for the 2012-13 academic year and is pursuing a degree in Business Administration before applying for Officer Candidate School after graduation. His brother Franz Holmes was also featured in the My HBCU, My Story series.