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Corporal Gregory Salyer, a gunner serving with Kilo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, attached to 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, spent his entire enlistment serving with the battalion as an artillery man and is nearing the end of his enlisted contract. Only months away from being honorably discharged, Salyer, a native of Independence, Ky. plans to attend college.

Photo by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo

Kentucky Marine prepares for life after Corps

9 May 2013 | Cpl. Timothy Lenzo

Whether Marines serve four years or continue until retirement, there comes a time when they must say goodbye to the Marine Corps.

For Cpl. Gregory Salyer, a gunner serving with Kilo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, attached to 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, his time is fast approaching.

Salyer, a native of Independence, Ky., first stepped on the yellow footprints as a 19-year-old recruit, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, July 19, 2009.

“I always wanted to be a Marine,” said Salyer. “The main reason I enlisted was because the war was going on. I wanted to do my part.”

Three years and 10 months later, he learned his trade as an artilleryman. His team mans an M777 Lightweight Howitzer. He also deployed with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He traveled to Guam, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Cambodia and Kuwait.

The end of his contract is approaching, and Salyer decided to leave the military with a plan.

His short terms goals include joining the Independence Police Department while attending college. He plans on majoring in either business or criminal justice.

Salyer’s intermediate goal is to move to SWAT. After putting in time working with the SWAT department, Salyer plans to apply for a job with the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI or the Secret Service. 

“Marines need to have a set plan or they’re going to be stuck where they started,” said Cpl. Edwin Aguinaldo Jr., Salyer’s section chief and a friend of more than three years. “I’m glad Salyer has a plan and I wish the best for him. I can see him 30 years from now shining wherever he is.”

Salyer is looking to his future but remains focused on his work.

With less than 70 days in the Marine Corps, Salyer refuses to take it easy. He continues to teach and train his junior Marines.

“He gives them advice to help in their young Marine Corps careers,” said Aguinaldo, a native of Kapolei, Hawaii, who also considers Hinesville, Ga., his home. “Before he gets out he wants to pass his knowledge to others. He does a lot of classes for our Marines.”

In addition of teaching his Marines about artillery, Salyer also emphasizes the importance of having a plan after the Marine Corps. 

More Marines need to take advantage of the opportunities the military provides them, Salyer said.

In addition to the GI Bills and tuition assistance, there are a variety of technical schools available to Marines.

“If a Marine takes advantage of the programs (the Marine Corps offers), and he already has hands on experience, it’s a huge advantage,” Salyer said. “In today’s job market, employers want someone with experience.”

Salyer is leaving the Corps in a few months. With a plan in place and significant life experience, he is focused on success during the next chapter in his life.