Fort Mill High School graduate Michael Volker, 20, is a married man and a Marine. He’s balancing a deployment in the Helmland province of Afghanistan with family back home, including a wife, Mickayla, of just more than a year. So far, he’s getting everything he expected.
Cpl. Volker left Camp Lejeune, N.C., on July 9 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. A combat engineer, he’ll provide logistical support for deployed Marines and U.S. allies while advising the Afghan National Security Forces. He signed up for those tasks because he liked the military environment and “wanted to do more than the average Joe.”
Last week he took a few minutes from his work to share the experience with the Fort Mill Times.
Q: For someone who’s never been in the military or to Afghanistan, how would you describe what you’re doing?
Volker: “I’m over here in Afghanistan helping the transition (to Afghan governmental control). We’re getting everything ready to hand over to the Afghan people and working with them to help them take the lead. We’re helping them as much as we can while we’re here.”
Q: With that transition in sight, how is morale? Does it help knowing that our role over there is changing?
Volker: “Morale over here is great. We all decided to be over here doing what we’re doing. This is what we wanted to do.”
Q: What’s been the biggest challenge?
Volker: “The biggest thing is family back home, taking care of them and pushing forward. When I get home I want to move my wife to a base and start our life.”
Q: What would you say to someone back home who may be considering the military?
Volker: “It’s a great thing. It’s definitely life-changing. A lot of exercise. They would need to make sure they have the right mindset.”
Q: Back home we see lots of commercials or messages thanking troops for their service. We hear about our military as heroes. With everyone over there active military, is that something you all think about?
Volker: “It becomes second nature. We talk about it sometimes, but it pretty much becomes second nature.”
Q: Has anything over there surprised you? Anything that you weren’t quite expecting to be the way it is?
Volker: “They train us really well. Not a lot of huge surprises.”