Germany — Andrew Nackley is now a staff sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. Assigned as a senior intelligence analyst with Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, the Baton Rouge native selected a path less traveled, having enlisted into boot camp at the age of 32.
Although impacted by 9/11, he says joining the Marine Corps was, "a long time coming."
Nackley had already worked hard for success in the civilian world, working his way up to program director at the University of California Berkeley Public Radio . This station’s emphasis on community improvement and education over commercialism was a natural fit with Nackley's sense of community. Still, he was not satisfied and felt the desire for the next challenge.
As he explained, "I felt a calling to contribute even more to the common good," he decided to give in to his inner kid.
As a young kid trying to find his way in the world, he developed a curiosity for history, specifically history during time of conflicts and war. Further motivated by his grandfather’s service in the U.S. Army during World War I, Nackley joined the Marine Corps, shipping off to Marine Corps Recruit Training in the Fall of 2002.
When asked why he joined so late, he said that the time was right. He had read about the "old guys" of the previous wars; many were in their early to mid-thirties and worked their way through the ranks.
With this as his inspiration, he went straight to the Marine Corps recruiter. Why the Marine Corps? "The Marine Corps offered the greatest challenge," stated Nackley.
His wife added, "and they did have the best looking uniforms, didn't they?" This was answered with a shoulder shrug of her own and a "Well, they do."
As a sergeant, Nackley served as a senior analyst. He has become a critical asset to the command, routinely briefing general officers, a task usually reserved for senior enlisted.
Although the work tempo keeps him busy most of the time, he still makes time to visit historical battle sites he read about as a young boy. His most fond memory is of the Memorial Day ceremony at Belleau Wood. This moment tied together the history he read about, his family’s history, standing very close to that same spot where his grandfather stood 100 years prior, and now his chapter as he turns another page in his own book.
He is unsure where he will go next but he is always ready to take on the next challenge. Compared to going through boot camp at 32, anything else seems easy.