MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Lance Cpl. Grant A. Paschali, a native of Aurora, Ill., spent his childhood playing with G.I. Joes and camping in the woods. He had a BB gun and knife collection and wore camouflage clothes, so it wasn’t a big surprise when he joined the Marine Corps seven days after his 19th birthday.
Since he left for Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif., Paschali has been living his childhood dream, and found the reality of life in the military to be a gratifying experience.
“I’ve always been in shape, and thought about joining the military for a long time,” he said. “This is just like everything else I’ve done in my life. I don’t like to do half a job at anything, so that’s why I went for the Marine Corps,” he said with a smile, remembering the day he went in to a recruiting office, bypassing the other services because the Marines are renowned as the toughest branch of the military.
Paschali joined shortly after realizing he wasn’t ready to settle in to more long-term education with books and paper, and chose instead to enrich his street smarts and life experience. “I don’t think I would have been able to apply myself in college back then,” he said, referring to roughly a year ago. “I think I would do a lot better now because the Marine Corps gives you discipline and maturity. If I had gone to school right away, I would be going to a community college, doing the same old things I had always done, taking forever to grow up.”
Paschali’s confidence and positive attitude set him ahead in boot camp, where he graduated his grueling 13-week basic training as a squad leader and earned a meritorious promotion from private to private first class.
After completing Marine Combat Training at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Paschali took 15 days of recruiter’s assistance, where he successfully aided his recruiter in signing up two more people from his hometown, which landed him yet another meritorious promotion, this time to his present rank of lance corporal.
Paschali learned the trade of electrical engineering, and currently serves with the II Marine Expeditionary Force Marine Headquarters Group Engineers, where he builds “everything the Marine Corps needs.”
“My job is important because I set up electrical circuits, which are used for almost anything,” he said, further explaining his military occupational specialty includes building and wiring shadow boxes, carts, signs, switches, lights, outlets, generators, and panel boards. “Pretty much, we read schematics, and can do anything the blueprint says,” he boasts.
All of Paschali’s military training is worth college credit, and makes him better prepared for life whether in or out of the military.
“I used to think I wanted to get out and be an electrician,” he said, noting why he picked his current occupation, “but now I’ve considered a few other things as well, like being a police officer. I may also stay in and become an officer,” he said.
Regardless of which road he takes, Paschali agrees the Marine Corps has opened up several options and opportunities he wouldn’t have had before.
“I was just going to get out after four years, but I haven’t had a bad taste of the Marine Corps yet,” he said. “Everyone has bad days, but overall I haven’t been too disappointed.”