MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Outstanding Marines can be found throughout the Marine Corps. Not only do these Marines excel at their Military Occupational Specialty, but they also lead productive off-duty lives.
In the Marine Corps, 19 year-old Cpl. James R. Schneider III is a motor vehicle operator with Motor Transport Platoon, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, II MEF. After hours, he is a coach, mentor and future pilot.
Seven weeks after completing training at Motor Transport Operations School and receiving order to Camp Lejeune, Schneider was headed to Al Anbar, Iraq, for a seven month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he participated in more than 150 successful combat-related missions.
However, he thinks the Iraqi children made his tour all the more worthwhile.
“We spent time with the kids in Iraq, playing with them and handing out candy,” Schneider said. “They would wave at us and give us thumbs-up every time we rolled through, and that made me feel like we were making a difference in their lives.”
Two months after returning to Camp Lejeune, Schneider was assigned to his current position as the driver for the II MHG commanding officer.
Along with his role as a driver, he also took on many administrative and legal tasks.
“I never went to administrative school, but I try to take initiative and fill in the gaps whenever I can,” Schneider said. “You never know what you might encounter later in the Marine Corps, so it gives me that extra edge.”
Schneider’s command has also noticed his personal drive.
“He absolutely has a lot of initiative,” said Maj. John DePinto, the II MHG adjutant and Schneider’s officer in-charge. “Even when he is asked to do things not related to his job, he is eager and willing to help the Marines in his shop.”
Currently, Schneider is applying to become the driver for the incoming II MEF commanding general. His chain of command recommended him for the position.
“We chose Cpl. Schneider because of his intelligence and drive,” DePinto said.
Schneider is excited about the new opportunity.
“I think to myself, ‘How many people get a chance to be put in that position?’” Schneider said. “Even if I don’t get the job, it’s still awesome to know that my (staff noncommissioned officers) and my OIC recommended me for it.”
When the work day is over, Schneider isn’t ready to go home. He drives to the track to coach a track team for the Youth Sports Program here.
Volunteering to coach “The Green Team,” a track team for children ages 5-9, is one way Schneider tries to positively effect the future.
“It takes time and patience,” Schneider said. “You just have to realize that half the time, they’re not even going to be listening to you.”
Schneider believes being a role model for children early-on is important.
“If I can set a good example this early for the kids on my team, then maybe they’ll think about ‘Coach Schneider’ when they get in their teens and mimic the things I did and did not do,” Schneider said.
Schneider also uses his personal time for self improvement.
“I’ve wanted to fly my whole life,” Schneider said. “The Marine Corps gave me the funds and discipline to make it through the classes.”
He has completed the ground portion of his flight school, and after completing a specified amount of flight time, Schneider will receive his private pilot’s license.
DePinto said volunteer work and self improvement is crucial, and he commended Schneider for giving his free time to do just that.
Schneider said he tries to emulate those who have influenced him throughout his life.
“I base a lot of what I do on my OIC, sergeant major, gunny and other NCOs because they’ve been in the Marine Corps longer and know what it’s like,” Schneider said. “I also look up to my high school track coach and my family because they set such good examples for me.”
Schneider isn’t sure what his future holds, but he is sure he wants to continue making a difference.
“Ten years down the road I want people to think of me and say ‘He did it. So can I,’” Schneider said. “I want to be a positive influence that others can emulate.”