Lt. Gideon Gravatt
I was raised with my brothers and sister by a single mother in St. Louis. For much of my childhood, the family struggled on welfare often wondering where the next meal was coming from. When I was 17, a Marine Corps recruiter called me and asked if I had considered the military. I and my older brother had both talked about the military as a way to a new and better life.
Although I excelled in high school, graduating in the top 10% of my class, I was not ready to pursue further education right away. I decided to enlist in the Marine Corps and went to boot camp in San Diego the summer after I graduated. After boot camp, I attended combat training at Camp Pendleton and then went to Fort Knox to learn to become a tank mechanic. While at Fort Knox, I was surprised to learn that I had been selected to enter the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
Although I initially had decided I was not ready to go to college, I did not want to pass up the opportunity for a free education. I was able to choose the college program of my choice and decided to attend Purdue University where I obtained a bachelors degree in history. During my summers, I attended military training which took me to different locations including England, France, Spain, Italy, and Greece.
After graduating from college, I received further training from the Marine Corps preparing to be an armor officer. My first assignment was as a platoon commander at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Combat Center in California. As a platoon commander, I was responsible for leading my tank unit in combat simulation exercises. These training exercises were essential to ensure that we would be ready to respond in the event of a real battle. I also had the opportunity to participate in training exercises overseas in Kuwait where I felt the thrill of driving my tank at 50 miles per hour across the desert firing on the move. After serving as a platoon commander, I acted as the company commander in charge of several tank platoons.
I am currently stationed at Marine Corps Headquarters in Quantico, Virginia where I am increasing my skills and experience in the areas of technology and communications. Prior to starting my next field assignment, I will have the opportunity to receive advanced training in armor or amphibious warfare.