MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Confident in every right, they walk through the door in their crisp uniforms, wearing the serious faces of seasoned Marines. A husband-and-wife duo, “power couple” as some may refer to, prepare to close one chapter and are eager to live the next. With a combined 45 years of service, Master Gunnery Sgt. Brad Walters, ground ordnance chief with The Basic School, and Gunnery Sgt. Alicia Walters, lead career planner with the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, credit their successful Marine Corps careers to teamwork, having each other’s backs, and striving towards the same goals.
Like most young Marines, the Walters’ joined the Marine Corps with the excitement of the unknown and the many possibilities for the future. While the Marine Corps may not have been the easiest path, they both will retire in May with a wealth of experience and knowledge.
“It's been a long road, it's been a bumpy road, but it was worth it,” Alicia said.
Take it from Alicia, who has seen her fair share of uncertain junior Marines. The debate was always whether or not they should re-enlist, and sometimes getting the little nudge they need to remember the reason they joined in the first place.
“Everyone kind of stumbles through their first enlistment,” Alicia said. “I don’t think it really matters what branch you are, there’s a lot happening in those first few years; you’re leaving home, you’re growing as a person, you’re growing in your career, learning... so much happens,” she continued.
Many young Marines join the Marine Corps and leave home for the first time. Thinking back on the advice they would have appreciated as junior Marines and recalling much of what they learned through what they called “growing pains”, the Walters’ learned to be prepared, to be forward thinking, and to always have a plan.
“For me, setting short, mid, and long term goals, I don’t think I did that as a young Marine,” Brad said.
Growing up in Dunkirk, a small town south of Buffalo, New York, Brad credits his Marine Corps career to his uncle who was stationed at Marine Barracks Washington, and one of his biggest influences for joining the Corps.
“A lot of my family members served in World War II, Vietnam era, and I felt it was just, you know, my time to do my part,” Brad said.
The Marine Corps has given them both a sense of belonging, a purpose, and an unexpected family.
“It’s the sense of brotherhood, you know? You have your family, that’s different, but when you leave all that behind and you join the military, you’re looking for acceptance in something else and being part of a team,” Brad said. “That’s probably the most exciting thing about being in the military. It’s the friendships that you develop and the friendships that you build and that sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. Knowing that the people you have met along the way will always be there for you.”
No one doubts the tight-knit community of the Marine Corps, the successes and struggles they face together. The brotherhood is apparent in all aspects of their career.
“It teaches you that family is not always a blood thing, it’s not,” Alicia said. “Some of the closest people we have to us, it’s not family, biologically speaking, but they are family. My best friend, she’s my sister, hands down. I love her as if we grew up together.”