AL ASAD, Iraq -- Brandon M. Mitchell has some great plans for this upcoming summer.
He's not going to spend all day at the beach. He doesn't have a cross country road trip planned. He has friends to hang out with, but they aren't going to be going to the mall or relaxing all day. The 20-year-old Queensbury, N.Y. native has better things to do.
Mitchell will spend this summer as he has spent the last two months; serving with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 in Al Asad, Iraq.
The 2003 Queensbury High School graduate spends his days as a training clerk, overseeing various work details that maintain and improve the facilities here.
"A normal work day for me starts with an assessment of our working area," Lance Cpl. Mitchell said. "After that we do whatever needs to be done around the compound, fill sand bags and setup tents. I also work for the camp commandant, who directs what jobs need to be done."
Mitchell joined the Marine Corps in July 2003, just a few weeks after high school. Looking to find a sense of direction, he said he looked at the Marine Corps as a chance to grow and develop.
"I knew I wasn't ready to take college seriously," he said. "I didn't want to waste money on something I wasn't going to put my all into."
He went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., and after completing basic training and Marine Combat Training, went to the Aviation Operations Course at Naval Air Station, Meridian, Miss.
During each phase of his training, Mitchell stood out among his peers. He graduated as platoon guide in both basic training and MCT and was class leader in his military occupation school.
Although he spent two and a half months learning to track flight hours, pilot qualifications and support air field operations, upon arriving to his first unit Mitchell was placed in the training department where he ensured his fellow Marines and sailors were prepared to deploy.
"Marines have always been extremely flexible," he said. Although not working in his primary
field, Mitchell said he knew the job he was doing was important to the success of the unit.
Working everyday to make sure his unit was ready to deploy, Mitchell jumped at the chance to deploy when the squadron was looking for volunteers for Operation Iraqi Freedom 04-06.
"I joined the Marine Corps to serve my country," he said. "Somewhere, someone on a wall or on a post has put in their time. Now it's my turn do my part ."
"He is a good Marine," said Staff Sgt. Joseph R. Arnold, unit operations chief. "He's the type of Marine you want to have in your ranks because of his 'can do' attitude. He does not accept failure, and is constantly striving for more responsibility as he hones his skills as a leader in the Corps."
Although he misses family and friends back home in New York and North Carolina, Mitchell said he knows he is here for a good reason.
"Other nations helped us while we were fighting for our independence, we are here to provide freedom to the people of Iraq," he said. "What says more about America and the American dream, than defending and upholding the freedom of another nation."