FORT MILL — Fort Mill High School graduate Michael Volker, 20, is a married man and a Marine. Hes balancing a deployment in the Helmland province of Afghanistan with family back home, including a wife, Mickayla, of just more than a year. So far, hes getting everything he expected.
Cpl. Volker left Camp Lejeune, N.C., on July 9 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. A combat engineer, hell provide logistical support for deployed Marines and U.S. allies while advising the Afghan National Security Forces. He signed up for those tasks because he liked the military environment and wanted to do more than the average Joe.
Last week he took a few minutes from his work to share the experience with the Fort Mill Times.
Q: For someone whos never been in the military or to Afghanistan, how would you describe what youre doing?
Volker: Im over here in Afghanistan helping the transition (to Afghan governmental control). Were getting everything ready to hand over to the Afghan people and working with them to help them take the lead. Were helping them as much as we can while were here.
Q: With that transition in sight, how is morale? Does it help knowing that our role over there is changing?
Volker: Morale over here is great. We all decided to be over here doing what were doing. This is what we wanted to do.
Q: Whats been the biggest challenge?
Volker: The biggest thing is family back home, taking care of them and pushing forward. When I get home I want to move my wife to a base and start our life.
Q: What would you say to someone back home who may be considering the military?
Volker: Its a great thing. Its definitely life-changing. A lot of exercise. They would need to make sure they have the right mindset.
Q: Back home we see lots of commercials or messages thanking troops for their service. We hear about our military as heroes. With everyone over there active military, is that something you all think about?
Volker: It becomes second nature. We talk about it sometimes, but it pretty much becomes second nature.
Q: Has anything over there surprised you? Anything that you werent quite expecting to be the way it is?
Volker: They train us really well. Not a lot of huge surprises.