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The heart of a champion

17 Feb 2008 | Lance Cpl. Shawn Coolman

Chuck Norris would want to see this Marine in action.

 Marines pass time on deployments in many ways, but Lance Cpl. Tranquilla T. McGee enjoys spending his off-time on the mat, training in hand-to-hand combat with the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

 During Lance Cpl. McGees’ off-time, he devotes many hours a week practicing different techniques to achieve his next belt.

 MCMAP works in a succession of belt levels beginning at tan, and progressing through gray, green, brown and black.

 McGee arrived to 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, in Aug. 2007 as a tan belt, just two weeks before they left for their pre-deployment training.

 During the course of the deployment, McGee has earned his grey belt and recently his green belt. He says he plans to continue on to brown belt when he returns to the U.S.

 “I do MCMAP to advance myself above my peers and to be better trained for combat,” said the 21-year-old McGee who is from Biloxi, Miss.”

 The Marines of 3rd Bn., 23rd Marines, have created their own MCMAP room so that Marines have a safe environment in which to train.

 “We’re training for close-quarter combat in the case that our weapon is not in commission and we need to use weapons of opportunity that are around us,” said McGee.

 McGees’ training partner, Cpl. Nicholas W. Alexie, who is going for his green belt, commented on McGees work ethic.

 “I’ve been practicing MCMAP with him since we were doing our pre-deployment training, and I could tell he was very determined to better himself,” said Alexie, an administrative clerk with 3rd Bn., 23rd Marines, from Hammond, La. “He is very driven to obtain all the training he can receive. He is training, even if it’s by himself; he will just read the training book and practice,” added Alexie.

 And practice he does. McGee doesn’t care whom he fights; they can be smaller than him or twice his size. He says he is confident in himself to come out on top, and if not, he gets better by learning from his mistakes.

 “There are better-trained Marines out there that I fight, but I have the heart of a champion; I don’t give up,” said McGee. “I know that one day if I need to utilize this training, I will be ready.”