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COMBAT OUTPOST SHIR GHAZAY, Afghanistan – After a troubled past, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Christopher Souder knew he had to make a change. Wanting to serve his country and support his family, he joined the Marine Corps in hopes of a better life.
Souder, from Rockville, Md., is now an armorer with Bravo Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 7.
“Before I joined, I had one kid. My wife and I had just gotten engaged and my life wasn’t going the way I wanted it to,” Souder said. “I had gotten in a little bit of trouble, so when I had the chance to enlist, I took the opportunity.”
Souder joined the Marine Corps on Nov. 1, 2009, to better his life and has no regrets about the decision. He volunteered for his current deployment and hopes to get another deployment before his time in the Marines is done.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Souder said. “I mean, it led me here, so although some of the decisions I made weren’t the right ones, I’m glad I was able to learn from them. I begged to come on this deployment. I saw the old commanding officer for Bravo Company, and he was like, ‘Hey, I’ve been hearing your name a lot, you still want to deploy?’ I told him, ‘Hell yeah, I want to deploy,’ and here I am.”
Souder said he is motivated by what his grandfather, a former Marine, told him as a child.
“The one thing my grandpa told me was, ‘Don’t go through life with any regrets ‘cause that’s the worst thing,’” Souder said. “Many people have come over here three or four times. If I don’t try to get on another deployment after I’m already done with this one, I think I probably would regret it later on in life. I don’t want to have that, so I’d like to deploy with the next company when they come out here.”
Although Souder’s grandfather passed away, he still takes the knowledge his grandfather passed on to him to heart.
“My grandfather died when I was 10, but he told me a lot of stuff as a kid. A lot of it has stuck with me to this day, and I try to live up to it all the time,” Souder said.
Souder now has two daughters and is expecting a third child. He expects to be home in time from this deployment to witness the birth of his third child.
“My oldest daughter is my angel, and my youngest melts my heart every time I see her, so I hope I get another daughter,” Souder said. “But I miss my wife and kids pretty much equally.”
To cope with being away from his family, Souder writes music about his experiences in Afghanistan. Before joining the Marine Corps, he had developed a small following in his hometown under the stage name of Drew Gutterz.
“I write music to kind of just take me away from everything,” he said. “I write music out here all the time, and I like to put some of the different experiences from out here into my music.”
Sgt. John Ramson, a section leader with Bravo Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, has been in two companies with Souder and noted his professionalism throughout that time.
“He always makes sure he does his job the way he’s supposed to and doesn’t care if he gets the credit or not,” Ramson said. “He’s just a hard worker and wants to make sure everything is done right. He’s pretty funny and is really dedicated to what he does. He really cares about making sure whatever he’s doing he’s doing it right. He was my armorer back in Delta Company, and he was my go-to guy if there were any problems.”
Souder plans on re-enlisting and working on his musical career. But until then, he will continue to ensure the Marines of Bravo Company have functioning weapons while deployed to Afghanistan.