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Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Anthony J. Cesaro, left, a native of Illinois and the commanding officer of Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron (MWHS) 2, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), administers the oath of enlistment to Staff Sgt. Chelsae Duncan, a native of Missouri and a personnel and administrative chief with MWHS-2, during a reenlistment ceremony at Setermoen, Norway, March 2, 2024. Duncan reenlisted under the subsequent term alignment program and is one of the many Marines with the 2nd MAW who reenlisted while in Norway for Exercise Nordic Response 24. Exercise Nordic Response, formerly known as Cold Response, is a NATO training event conducted every two years to promote military competency in arctic environments and to foster interoperability between the U.S. Marine Corps and allied nations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Orlanys Diaz Figueroa)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Orlanys Diaz Figueroa

U.S. Marines reenlist in Norway during Exercise Nordic Response 24

8 Apr 2024 | Lance Cpl. Orlanys Diaz Figueroa 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Chelsae Duncan, a personnel and administrative chief with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron (MWHS) 2, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), was one of a few Marines that deployed to Norway who reenlisted and conducted the ceremony while in Norway, prior to the start of Exercise Nordic Response 24. Exercise Nordic Response 24 was designed to enhance military capabilities and allied cooperation in high-intensity warfighting scenarios under challenging arctic conditions, while providing U.S. Marines unique opportunities to train alongside NATO allies and partners.

Duncan grew up in Raytown, Missouri, but previously moved around due to her mom being in the Army. She originally attended Northwest Missouri State University in hopes to attain a bachelor’s degree, but while working two jobs and attending school full time, she decided that school had become too expensive and turned her sights toward the military.

Duncan joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2016 at the age of 20 and left Missouri to attend recruit training for 13 weeks at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, making her mother proud.

“My mom was very happy, mainly because she’s in the Army,” Duncan said. “She really always wanted me to join the military.”

Following recruit training, she attended Marine Combat Training Battalion at Camp Geiger, North Carolina. She then attended administrative specialist school in Camp Johnson, North Carolina, where she received orders to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 312 in Beaufort, South Carolina.

“My first enlistment taught me a lot and introduced me to lifelong friends,” Duncan said. “I had great leadership to look up to and they fueled me to want to continue and teach Marines the way I was taught.”

The Marine Corps offers Marines lifetime experiences they otherwise may not have as civilians, such as having the opportunity to travel to various countries and experience different cultures.

Throughout Exercise Nordic Response 24, Marines relished the opportunity to reenlist in another country in a deployed environment. Marines like Lance Cpl. David O’Brien and Staff Sgt. Stephen Lake decided to reenlist in Norway before jumping into freezing-cold water during an ice-breaker drill as part of their cold-weather training.

Lake, an Illinois native and a data systems chief with Combat Logistics Regiment (CLR) 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (MLG), joined the Marine Corps to travel and gain life experiences.

“I value life experience more than other things,” Lake said. “The Marine Corps has set me up for more opportunities that I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.”

O’Brien, a Washington native and an ammunition technician with Combat Logistics Battalion 6, CLR-2, 2nd MLG, decided to reenlist for the prestige of being a Marine and the comradery and pride that comes with it.

“I don’t do it for the pay,” Obrien said. “I do it for the glory.”

Travel and life experiences are common factors in many Marine’s decisions to join and continue to serve. For others, it is the opportunity to pursue higher education using programs such as tuition assistance, which allows them to obtain a college degree at little to no cost to themselves.

Sgt. Riley J. Crabbe; a Texas native and a satellite communications operator with Marine Wing Communications Squadron (MWCS) 28, 2nd MAW, and the second youngest out of seven children; joined to find a greater purpose and to do something distinct from his siblings.

“My older siblings had already fulfilled my parents’ dreams of going to college and leaving with a degree,” Crabbe said. “I wanted to do something different; now I have the opportunity to get a degree at no cost and maintain a career at the same time.”

For noncommissioned officers, the chance to reenlist after their first-enlistment contract allows them to volunteer for a special duty assignment (SDA). Available SDAs include drill instructor duty, duty as a Marine Corps recruiter, or duty as a Marine Security Guard Detachment Commander (MSG DC). Special duty assignments allow Marines to have an immense impact on the Marine Corps. Whether recruiting the next generation of Marines, molding civilians into Marines, or serving abroad at one of the U.S. embassies as an MSG DC, the opportunities afforded by SDAs are diverse and rewarding, which can be appealing to Marines.

This was the case for Cpl. Dorothy Le, a native of Chicago and a network transport technician with MWHS-2, who also reenlisted in Norway. As a part of her next enlistment, Le volunteered for a special duty assignment and is scheduled to attend drill instructor school in April 2025.

Le was inspired to pursue duty as a drill instructor and shape future Marines because of the role models she met and lessons she experienced during her first enlistment.

“A factor of me reenlisting is that I know the Marine Corps has always had my back,” Le said. “It taught me to be independent. I know I will always have my brothers and sisters to the left and right of me. That motivates me to continue.”

Much like Le, Duncan finds motivation in the people she meets, and the comradery provided in the Marine Corps.

“One thing I would say that is rewarding about the Marine Corps is the family that it has given me,” Duncan said. “You become so close with a lot of different people, with a lot of different backgrounds, and you learn so much. Without my military family that I’ve created, I would not be who I am today. They have taught me a lot and are my support system.”

Duncan acknowledges the hardships and struggles that come with the job of being a Marine. She encourages Marines to persevere and push through those challenges.

“To the Marines thinking about reenlisting, just do it,” Duncan said. “You can be the change the Marine Corps needs. Don’t give up. No matter the obstacles that are thrown at you, continue to push and do what is best for your life.”

There are various programs for continued service in the Marine Corps for Marines at every juncture of their career. Marines are encouraged to learn about them, apply for those unique opportunities, and submit packages. Contact a career planner to discuss your opportunities to stay Marine.

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing