CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – One year ago today, Hunter Bynum had been living with his family in the largest city of Alabama. He hadn’t yet experienced stepping on the famous yellow footprints of Parris Island, South Carolina, never mind conquering the vigorous 13 weeks of training that would make him into the Marine he is today.
Today, Bynum is a private first class in the Marine Corps. He is a native of Birmingham, where he was raised by his mother, Kelly, and his father, Curt. He is the oldest of five children.
“My family owns a big farm,” Bynum said. “I loved working on my own land and the freedom that came with it.”
Change of Pace
Even with the physically taxing and rewarding work at home, Bynum wanted a change of pace. He decided to contact a recruiter and continue his family’s legacy in the Marine Corps.
“My dad and my granddad both served,” Bynum said. “I grew up seeing pictures of them in their dress blues and hearing their stories. I decided I wanted to get up and get my own [stories].”
He describes himself as someone who enjoys standing out and being different. During his free time outside of work he practices deep-sea fishing, hunting and hiking.
“That’s definitely one of the reasons why I chose to become an infantryman,” Bynum said. “I love camping. I don’t mind staying out in the field for one or two weeks at a time.”
Bynum reported to boot camp at Parris Island on Sept. 15, 2014. Since then, he’s graduated from the School of Infantry and has become proficient with the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, the M-240 Bravo medium machine gun, and M-67 fragmentation hand grenades.
Assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Bynum participates in urban environment combat exercises, which include building clearance and maneuvering under fire training.
Bynum recently had an amphibious training experience. He and more than 200 other Marines traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, to board the USS Kearsarge in support of Combined/Joint Operational Access Exercise 15.1, held April 9-13.
“I don’t really mind being on ship,” Bynum said. “This is my first time ever being on one. It’s a good change of scenery, and it’s a great experience.”
Bynum said his noncommissioned officers stayed busy giving professional military education to their junior Marines, as well as leading exercises in the mornings and preparing them for the beach assault training they would be conducting with amphibious assault vehicles and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters just a few days later.
‘Training to be Ready’
“We are always training to be ready,” Bynum said. “I love being in the Marine Corps. I get to handle all kinds of weapons systems and I love being able to travel like this.”
Bynum’s battalion is gearing up for deployment as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. He said he’s prepared for upcoming challenges.
“I’m ready for it,” Bynum said. “As infantrymen, we train to address the enemy head-on. Throughout our training, and tackling every situation that we usually wouldn’t encounter, we will be better prepared for whatever will be thrown at us.”