November 10th is one of the most important days of the year for me. Today, we celebrate the United States Marine Corps' 246th birthday.

I am a proud member of "the few, the proud, the Marines", having graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego (MCRD), 26 years ago in August 1995.

It's worth noting that the Corps is the only United States military branch were you have the earn the title. Any other branch, you are a soldier, airman or sailor once you get to boot camp. You are not a Marine until you graduate after the 13th week.

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While serving my country, I had the privilege of quite literally, traveling the world. I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I was also on ship for two months. During that time I traveled to Pohang, South Korea.

I was also stationed on both coasts in country, training in Camp Pendleton, California and being stationed in both Arlington, Virginia (at the Pentagon and the Navy Annex, before it was demolished in 2013) and Marine Corps Base Quantico.

Since moving back to Wyoming, I had to adjust. I had been living in big cities the bulk of my life, so coming back to hometown seemed almost foreign, at first.

The one thing that always stood out was kind and neighborly the majority of Casperites were. I wasn't used to strangers exchanging pleasantries on a regular basis. Being very proud of my USMC heritage, my vehicles and apparel were (and are still) quite often adorned with USMC swag, which include everything from our motto of "Semper fidelis", which means "always faithful", to our logo of the EGA (Eagle, Globe and Anchor).

As friendly as people were in general, I always noticed there was a since of almost admiration from folks when they found out I was veteran, even when it came from my elders, and even a higher degree when it once it was uncovered I was a Marine (there is no former Marines; once a Marine, always a Marine).

I noticed how well the state, as a whole, looks out for its veterans, as well as its active duty military personnel, on a level I hadn't seen outside of cities near bases, something that has always made me proud to call Wyoming (and even more so, Casper), my home.

Although I left the Cowboy State at the tender age of 5-years old, it didn't take long after returning in 2002, to feel like I had never left. If 19 years later, I can honestly say, there is no place like home.

So thank you, Casper, for welcoming this leatherneck home with open arms.

Semper Fi!

DJ Nyke - USMC 1995
DJ Nyke - Townsquare Media

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