When we asked Mark to participate in this week’s Member Profile blog series, he told us he wasn’t much of a writer. “I’m a pretty simple man,” he said. “I believe in putting God and family first, and taking care of your friends whenever they need you. I believe a man’s job is to take care of his wife and kids. I believe in the Constitution. And I’m proud to be an American.”
Mark, we think you’re perfect for our blog.
I originally went into the Army in 1985. I always knew I wanted to serve my country. I always loved the uniform and the thought of defending my country. I remember when the Olympics came to LA in 1984, and Russia and many other countries boycotted the event. But when the US went on to win 83 gold, I felt very proud to be an American. It was a moment where I knew I had to serve and represent my country as well.
Joining the Army was one of the best decisions I have ever made, besides marrying my wife. My very first duty station was in Yongsan, Seoul, Korea 8th Army. I loved my first time being overseas and also did JAG work for the 121 Evac Hospital there. When I came back to the states, I spent time in Aberdeen Proving Grounds with the Foreign Material Intelligence Group. It was an awesome assignment, spent learning all the foreign vehicles, weapons, and other things. It was around that time that I was planning to re-enlist, and I tried hard to get assigned to Greece. But they sent me to another beach location instead: Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
I was able to work in downtown Waikiki at the federal building, running the prosecution office for two amazing federal magistrate judges. I also go to spend time on a joint assignment at Johnston Atoll—where nukes go to die—as well as working at Hickam Air Force base as Operation Desert Storm got under way.
I would highly encourage anyone to join the military. You will come away changed forever, having joined a brotherhood, gained a massive amount of discipline, and a better understanding of how the world works. It will completely challenge your mental resolve. There were many times in the beginning where I wondered if I could make it. And that’s where the brotherhood came in. We all went through the same challenges, even though it affected us all in different ways. The goal was to never leave anyone behind. If someone fell, we picked them back up. We would always tell each other, “I’ve got your six.” To this day, most of my backyard BBQs are with my brothers. Even though we didn’t always serve together, we all understand each other. I’ve got their six.
Throughout my time in the Army, I was always enthusiastic about fitness and personal training. I took the Army’s Master Fitness Course and never looked back. So when the Army downsized after the Gulf War, I decided to really dive into that. I got into running gyms, personal training, and powerlifting. Though I currently work in the financial/insurance industry (much better hours!), I train all the time. I’m currently 46 years old, and just two weeks ago I attempted a 550lb raw bench press. I managed to get one rep, but needed help on the second one. So, the journey continues!
I’ve gone from 300 lbs and almost 30% body fat, down to 262 lbs, and finally at 293 lbs and 10% body fat. The motivation always has to be there for me. For my kids, and for when I’m older. I want to set the example for them, to make health a priority. When I work out, I push my body to find my limits. There are no “three sets of ten” for me. It’s four or five sets, sometimes 100 reps, or until I fail. To me, there’s no point in being there if you’re not going to be all there.
I continue to train alongside my family, including my wife, who actually competes in figure competitions. We’ve been married for almost 20 years. My daughter is currently serving in the Army too, and is finishing up her credentials as a Licensed Practical Nurse at Fort Bliss. And my 17-year-old son is working hard to get into his West Point, his dream school. I put my family first and take care of them in every way I can. They are my motivation.