BATAVIA, N.Y. – For many Marines, recruiting duty can mean working sunrise to sunset, or in some cases, even later. Many work weekends and sometimes even holidays, sacrificing time that could be spent at home with family.
Marine Corps Sgt. Curtis D. Bennion, a recruiter here at Recruiting Substation Batavia, Recruiting Station Buffalo, 1st Marine Corps District, maximizes the time he has during every day of the week, both as a Marine and as a member of his community.
On Sept. 8, 2004, Bennion, who grew up on a dairy farm in Portageville, N.Y., decided to leave the farm to see what else was out there. That’s when he found himself at a local Marine Corps recruiting office and told the recruiter he wanted to join the military. He said he recalls the recruiter telling him, “Get out, and come back when you want to be a Marine.”
He walked back in 10 minutes later, he said, because he wanted to challenge himself to do something not most people are willing or able to do and to be part of the best.
After joining the Marine Corps, Bennion became a motor transport operator and deployed to Iraq with an explosive ordnance disposal unit in 2004 and 2005. After spending much of the early part of his career away from his home and family due to being called to duty overseas, Bennion now finds himself recruiting in western New York state, where he grew up.
Bennion said he has adapted the same mentality his recruiter had, with a no-nonsense approach.
“I’m not a salesman,” he said. “I offer the Marine Corps as an option, but I don’t get all hyped up and show emotion to sell someone into joining the Corps.”
Bennion’s approach to recruiting has helped him earn one of the top spots among the recruiters at Recruiting Station Buffalo in the last year.
“There is no Marine that works as hard as this guy,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Thomas Colombrito IV, a recruiter from Recruiting Substation Batavia. "He doesn’t go to sleep until 11 p.m., and he’s already at the office working out at 5 o’clock in the morning while I am still sleeping.”
Recruiting Station Buffalo officials also have noted Bennion's significant contributions to recruiting reservists and women. Many of his recruits become squad leaders or guides in their boot camp platoons, and he works hard to prepare his “poolees” -- the young men and women waiting to leave for recruit training.
“He’s the poster-boy Marine,” Colombrito said. “He does everything the Marine Corps way. He’s always up in front of the pool, leading his poolees. They all want to emulate Sergeant Bennion.”
When Bennion isn’t recruiting, he is finding ways to become an influence in his community. He is a volunteer firefighter, training for two hours every Monday and putting in 10 hours a week at the department.
Paul Dougherty, the fire chief of the Pavilion Fire Department, said being a volunteer firefighter isn’t an easy task. It takes a willingness to drop whatever you are doing whenever an incident strikes, whether it is in the evening or on weekends and holidays, he added.
On Christmas Day, Bennion woke up at 3 a.m. to attend to a trailer fire, spending six hours helping to put out the flames.
“Bennion’s experience in the Marine Corps has benefited him in being able to adapt to people he doesn’t know to achieve the mission,” Dougherty said. “It is difficult to acquire and retain members, so it is good to see someone like Curtis come along.”
Bennion’s involvement in his community doesn’t stop there. The Medina High School band had him march them onto the field during the New York State Field Band Championships in Syracuse, N.Y. The theme of the song they marched to was a tribute to him and all service members who fought before him and for the ones who will follow.
“Bennion is a Marine from family life to work,” Colombrito said. “He never stops.”
Bennion said his success and his family's success are what drive him to continue to grow into the best Marine, father, husband and man he can be. After recruiting duty, he added, he hopes to become an instructor at his military occupational specialty's school. He also hopes to achieve the rank of master gunnery sergeant someday to continue to lead the future of the Marine Corps, he said.