COMBAT OUTPOST SHIR GHAZAY, Afghanistan – Marine Corps Cpl. Charlemagne Jennings was one of four children who grew up while his father was in prison and credits the enlisting in the Marines with changing his life.
“I had it kind of rough growing up as a kid with my dad being locked up for 13 and a half years, and my mom struggled to find work for a little while during that time,” said Jennings, from Athens, Ga., who is a maintenance management clerk with Bravo Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6. “The rough times I went through as a kid, though, definitely shaped me up. From an early age, I knew life wasn’t going to be easy, but I decided to just straddle up and go along with the punches.”
Jennings played football and ran track in high school, but he decided not to pursue that in college and enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 2008.
“I wanted to do things that my family hadn’t done before,” Jennings said. “I wanted to become the first person in five generations of my family to serve their country. I liked the challenges the Marine Corps offered me, and I realized the life lessons that can be learned through being a Marine were invaluable. I mean, the Marine Corps helped shape me into the man I am today.”
While Jennings is proud of his time in the Marine Corps, he does not plan to re-enlist.
“I plan on becoming a barber and going to college. After I’m done with that, I’m going to get a resume put together to become an actor,” Jennings said. “I want to play some roles in comedy movies at some point.”
Jennings came into the Marine Corps with an open contract not knowing what his job would be, but doesn’t regret the decision.
“I love my job. I mean right now in Bravo Company, these 14 tanks are mine along with all the other vehicles,” Jennings said. “It’s a lot of responsibility making sure all the vehicles are running smoothly, but it’s a good job.”
Jennings is married and has a 3-year-old stepson and a 1-year-old son waiting for him back home.
“It’s hard being a new father and having to be on a deployment, because you have to miss your kids growing up and the early moments in their life,” Jennings said. “My 1 year old grew his first tooth two days after I left on this deployment and just started to walk on his own. It’s rough, but it’s also nice having that to look forward to when I get back home.”
To cope with being away from his loved ones, Jennings listens to music.
“Music has helped me a lot during this deployment,” Jennings said. “In my off time at night, I usually go sit by the tanks and listen to music for about three hours. It’s my time during the day in which I devote to back home. I just think about everybody and what’s going on back there.”
His daily tasks include keeping track of all repairs on tanks and vehicles.
“He’s unique and a hard worker. He really is the guy in charge of all the maintenance,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Joshua Whiting, Bravo Company’s maintenance ramp chief. “He’s the guy that makes sure we get all the parts we need and keeps the vehicles going. Jennings is the only guy in his job we have with us on this deployment. It’s essential he does a good job, and he has throughout the deployment.”