Washington, D.C. --
Every Marine has a story about why they enlisted or sought a commission in the Marine Corps. Some Marines chased after the dream of becoming a Marine, some saw the Corps as a way to earn money for college, some saw the Corps as a career opportunity in a struggling economy and for some Marines like Lance Cpl. Bryan A. Melius, they saw their peers go off to war and they wanted to do their part too.
Young men and women join the Marine Corps everyday for the opportunity to do their part, what is unique about Melius, a guard Marine with Guard Company, Marine Barracks Washington, is that he chose to quit college and his job to become an infantryman.
Melius, 22, and a Palm Bay, Fla. native, was attending Valencia University and managing a nightclub when he would hear war stories from his friend, a green beret in the U.S. Army, who was serving in a combat zone at the time.
It was these stories that inspired Melius to drop everything and join the Marine Corps.
"I had a lot of friends that were putting their lives on the line. I felt bad because I was back home going to college and working at a night club living the good life, so I kind of felt obligated to serve my country," Melius said.
Melius wanted to be a medic, but after discovering the Marine Corps does not have their own medics he quickly changed his mind.
He enlisted in the Corps as an infantryman and during basic training he was selected for security forces, an opportunity he did not want to pass up.
"It’s a great opportunity. I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to protect the president. That’s just an opportunity you don’t give up, because you can’t do that in the regular civilian world," he said.
In his thirteen months at Marine Barracks Washington he has distinguished himself as a professional who can be trusted and relied upon by his leaders.
"For a relatively young Marine in the operating forces he shows a great deal of maturity, leadership potential, and is he very capable," said Capt. Dan J. Meyers, 27, a Gainesville, Fla. native and the Guard Co. operations officer.
Melius began his tenure at MBW as a Marine who would stand post and he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a corporal of the guard, a billet typically reserved for a non-commissioned officer.
"I feel like you got to raise the bar not, you can’t just make excuses, you have to act on a higher level, the highest level of what a corporal is accountable for, especially if you are in charge," Melius said.
In addition to climbing through the ranks within Guard Co., Melius recently won a meritorious company board at the company level and he is slated to face-off against other lance corporals at the battalion level with the hopes of becoming a corporal.
His on the job performance and maturity are the primary reasons his senior leaders feel he is a good candidate for the board.
"I think he is a good candidate because he already has all of the responsibilities of a non-commissioned officer as a corporal of the guard and he would be another asset to the non-commissioned officer field." Meyers said. "He already has all of the leadership capabilities, his professionalism and his performance speaks for itself."
For Melius, perhaps his biggest takeaway from MBW and the Marine Corps will be the experience he gained while serving.
"If you get out of the Marine Corps there is no excuse on why you shouldn’t be a few steps ahead of just the normal college student, you’re used to responsibility," Melius said. "You’re held with so much responsibility and love it or hate it, it’s a lot of responsibility, your held accountable for your actions and that’s what college kids out in the real world, they can’t relate to that."