This month the United States Marine Corps celebrates its 242nd year of service to the nation and as such, PN Online is sharing the story of one of the few
By Christopher Di Virgilio
Not many people brag about being stopped by the police, but for retired U.S. Marine Corps veteran Curtis Jobe, being stopped in every state from Calif., to Tenn., is one of many fond memories he keeps from his time in the United States Marine Corps.
“We were pulled over in every state for speeding around 10mph over but didn’t get any trouble,” recalls Jobe. “The officer in Texas actually reached in the window to shake our hands and thanked us for our service. I already had a huge respect for law enforcement, but those gentlemen definitely brought it to a whole new level.”
Jobe managed to report to his next duty station without anything more serious than a few warnings and a newfound respect for the men and women in blue.
Jobe’s 4-year hitch in the Marines started in 2006 and of all the memories, his proudest moment was graduating Marine Corps boot camp.
“My greatest memory is graduating and seeing my mother about three seconds before being dismissed,” says Jobe. “I can only begin to describe the feeling that hit me. Every positive emotion hitting me all at once because I became much more than just a son she was proud of. I became a Marine she was proud of.”
Jobe comes from Southern Calif., where his father was stattioned but grew up in W.V., so enlisting in the Marines only seemed natural, despite an estranged relationship with his dad.
“It has to be in my blood,” says Jobe on why he enlisted. “My father was stationed at El Toro, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) but I know very little about him. He just wasn’t part of our life. It just kind of clicked when I wanted to do more my mother could be proud of. Little did I know the sense of accomplishment was beyond great.”
Jobe, like so many before him, wanted to do something in the Marines that “sounded cool.” Fortunately, he had already earned an electronics license prior to enlisting, so his recruiter suggested he explore being an electronics technician.
“My MOS (military occupational specialty) ended up being, 5939 Aviation Communication System Technician,” says Jobe. “The title sounds cool, so I was happy about that but basically we just fixed radios.”
After completing a lengthy stint at 29 Palms for Marine Corps Communication and Electronics School (MCCES), Jobe deployed with the Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron (MTACS 28) to Al Asad Airbase in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
After returning to Cherry Point, N.C., Jobe’s squadron had two spots to fill for deployments with other units. He was quick to volunteer and received orders to deploy to Ramadi with the Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), but just days before that deployment he was injured in a car accident while on leave.
Jobe sustained a C4/5 complete injury and life in the Marines was about to take a drastic change.
“I spent five months in a cervical collar and had limited feeling in my arms,” says Jobe. “I had some use of my elbows and wrist and complete paralysis from my mid-shoulder down. That part was hard to accept mentally. Not feeling the morning piss or even stubbing my toe anymore.”
And while he misses it all, he says it’s not the end of the world.
“Life will go on, so I try to make the most of it,” says Jobe.
The car crash also left him with sever burn scars on both arms that leave his elbows contracted and bilateral above knee amputations as a result of burn injuries.
“That definitely affected my PFT score,” Jobe jokes. “The Marines ultimately prepared me to handle life with a spinal-cord injury. Improvise, adapt and overcome will always be in my heart so I am ready for whatever happens. I may not enjoy every second of it, but it’s more fun than eating you know what.”
For many veterans, the transition from military life to civilian life is the most challenging. Add to that a spinal-cord injury, and things get even more daunting.
“Marine Corps core values definitely still have an influence on my life,” says Jobe. “The hardest part is accepting civilians aren’t Marines. They don’t move or think like a Marine. My being paralyzed has certainly saved a few people from a good throat-punch or a quick jab to the “shut up stupid” button.”
Jobe found some relief and guidance from his local chapter at Paralyzed Veterans of America, and while he says he hasn’t done as much as he would like to for the West Virginia Chapter, he continues to increase his efforts slowly.
“Our chapter has several new board members,” says Jobe. “We have a lot of ideas and are still very passionate about helping our members. We are definitely trying to be productive with our efforts.
Jobe continues to piece his life back together and hopes to be more active with local events and especially with helping newly injured veterans find their way.
“Honestly, I haven’t had many opportunities to help newly injured Marines, but I’m definitely a people person,” says Jobe. “I have the ability to connect with just about anyone, so given the chance I can definitely change an injured Marine’s outlook on life for the better. The acronym F.I.S.H. (fuck it, shit happens) has helped me through a few dark times.”
While sports have played a big role in the recovery of many injured veterans, Jobe hasn’t pursued para-sports just yet due to residual effects of his SCI. Scar tissue along his lower abdomen develops wounds easily and transferring from chair to car and back is a challenging task, but he hopes to compete in rifle marksmanship tournaments in the near future.
“Being able to fire a rifle accurately again is something I’ve wanted to do for a while,” says Jobe.
Like many Marines before him, Jobe’s pride in his fraternity is evident by the many t-shirts, hats and pins he constantly wears. His draw-full of challenge coins is a reminder of the many places he’s traveled and the influential people he’s met, and like so many other Marines, he’s always ready to tap that coin.
“I have well over 20 shirts, more than 100 hats and somewhere between 550 and 600 hatpins,” says Jobe.
“I haven’t counted, but I have a considerable number of coins as well. The prized jewel of my collection is from the first Marine Corps officer to outrank the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace that was given to me at Camp Cupcake, Iraq.”
About the Marine Corps birthday, he has to say, “It only makes sense to celebrate the birth of the most elite fighting force on Earth. The celebration helps strengthen the brother and sisterhood that make us what we are. A highly effective, world renown fighting force.”
“Happy 242nd Marines! May your holidays be blessed and your travels safe. SEMPER FIDELIS!!!”