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Marine Goes from American Idol to American Warrior

San Diego -- Patriotism is a powerful feeling.  It can make one do things they wouldn’t normally do.  When a life of stardom and success is laid out in front of someone, most would take that path and enjoy the benefits that come with it.  However, not everyone ends up taking it, and instead, chooses a path full of honor, pride, and sacrifice.   Pfc. John W. Schulz, Platoon 2134, Company F, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, decided to not answer his call of stardom but instead answered his call of duty by enlisting in the Marine Corps.   Schulz realized early on in his life that he had a natural gift when it came to singing. It was something he enjoyed doing with family and in front of other people.  

“I’ve been singing in public ever since I was a little kid, whether it was in church or in a little band I started when I was fourteen,” said Schulz.  “We played at little dance halls all over the place, playing older traditional types of country or older Texas dance hall style music.”   One can easily say that Schulz has a gift for singing after hearing him sing just one note. His success with singing was noticed not by just his friends and family, but by the world.    “Back in 2010 my mom was diagnosed with cancer,” said Schulz.  “I said to my mom, ‘Mom, I love you, I’d do anything in the world for you,’ and she said ‘Anything?’ and I said ‘yes.’  She then said ‘Well I would like for you to try out for American Idol.’  I was like gosh, out of all the things she could ask for, bake her one of her favorite cakes or do something for her, but she asked me to try out for the show.  I thought ‘oh man, I wear a cowboy hat, boots and belt buckle, I don’t feel like I really fit in on that show.”   Coming from a small town in Texas, Karnes City, Schulz was your stereotypical country boy.  He looked the part, sang traditional country music, and loved to rodeo competitively.  Schulz though had made a promise to his mother that he would audition.  His opportunity came in 2010 when the American Idol auditions came to Austin, Texas.   “We all went to the auditions but I didn’t have that great of hopes because I felt as though I hadn’t done anything special, just a small town kid singing in some dance halls,” said Schulz. “Before I knew it I had made it past all of the pre-auditions, got a ticket to Hollywood and then got a ticket to Las Vegas to become one of the top twenty guys, top forty overall when you include the girls.”   Unfortunately for Schulz, his ticket wasn’t punched for the next level of the competition.  With there being one other country singer, it was decided one must go.  Schulz ended up getting cut while the other country singer, Scotty McCreery, would go on to win the American Idol season 10 show.   Schulz had fulfilled his mothers promise and tried out for American Idol.  It brought him on an unexpected journey that his mother got to enjoy watching every step of the way.  Her happiness during that time will be something he will never forget.   “Before American Idol my mom was in remission, but when I got on the show the cancer came back,” said Schulz.  “Not long after I got cut it got really bad; she passed away a year and a half ago.”   Though Schulz suffered the loss of his mother, he had great opportunity ahead of him.   “After American Idol, I was given the opportunity to go on a worldwide tour with the Armed Forces Entertainment, singing for troops stationed overseas” said Schulz.  “We were on tour for about a year and a half, and during that time I would realize what my next big decision would be.”   While on tour, Schulz was exposed to the military life, witnessing the dedication and sacrifice military members and families were making to serve their country.  This and the fact that every generation of his family has served in the military dating back to the civil war were his main inspirations for joining.   “I see joining the Marine Corps as another goal in life that I wanted to accomplish,” said Schulz.  “I had this huge fear that I’d become an old man, never having served in the military just like my relatives before me, and it made me sick to my stomach on the thought of missing out on that.”   Schulz’s previous experiences have allowed him to excel and become the guide of his platoon.  His maturity, being older than most recruits at the age of 25, and well-rounded decision making skills got him noticed by his drill instructors.   “He was always trying to lead even when he didn’t hold a leadership billet,” said Sgt. Bradley W. Havenar, senior drill instructor.  “He is also very strong with his faith and just believes in good, constantly trying to be the good guy, but at the same time be firm and fair.  I think he’s seen somebody, either in his past or while he was on tour, which he’s trying to be like that has really opened up his heart to say this is how I want to be like and be part of.”   Schulz has taken a wild rollercoaster through his life, experiencing success, worldwide stardom, failure and the loss of a loved one.  He has been able to take his life experiences and grow as a person, helping him realize what matters most to him.   “Always remembering what’s most important in life; that the freedoms we enjoy, the high standards of living we’re accustomed to, remembering that we’re fighting to keep those freedoms and liberties,” said Schulz.  “You’re here doing this so other people don’t have to do this and dedicating this time for the protection and happiness of others.”

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