This is second in a series of articles profiling Marines working aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
Cpl. Rushane Thompson was born in Jamaica, moving to Florida as an 8-year-old. He lived there for the remainder of his childhood and graduated from high school in 2015. A soccer and football player, he had a job at J.C. Penney Co., and another pumping gas, before making his career choice.
“My brother was going to college, but I didn’t think that was the route for me,” Thompson said.
He said he had found a brotherhood already through his involvement in sports. During an encounter with a recruiter, Thompson was told: “You know, you look like a Marine.”
He had three friends join the Marine Corps after high school. The recruiter took Thompson out to lunch and sold him on the idea before a friend’s father, a Marine veteran, sealed it in.
“If I do something, why not be the best at it?,” the corporal said.
In the first two years, Thompson was fully convinced he would be getting out at the four-year mark. His first duty station was in Japan, where he and another young Marine were on fire watch.
Thompson said that, when he earned the corporal rank, his ambition was to become a sergeant. He has found himself in the position of leadership already, with other Marines looking to him for help.
Currently, he is a martial arts instructor at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. Combat marksmanship, motor transport operator, company clerk and license examiner are among the other roles and duties he has embraced.
Motor transport operator is his primary role.
“You don’t have to love the whole Marine Corps, you just have to find something in the Marine Corps you love to do,” Thompson said. “I like stepping up and doing different things.
“I have looked at different military occupational specialties. I am looking forward to different MOSs to build on,” the corporal added.
He is in classes to build on his skill sets, and took an advanced non-commissioned officer course last summer. His pursuit of various MOSs comes from the eagerness to gain knowledge, and making sure he does not lose that drive.
“There is a saying: ‘The wolf at the top of the hill will never be as hungry,’” Thompson said. “I always want to try to climb that hill.”
Thompson has a presence on the other side of the MCLB Albany fenceline through volunteerism. He said it started as something he wanted to try to do to give back.
In the sports world, he has worked as a volunteer coach in basketball, soccer and football. He has also been seen in uniform helping the Toys for Tots cause during the holiday season.
When in the uniform off-base, a younger population gets to interact with Marines while veterans have face-to-face opportunities to share with current Marines their stories of service.
“When we are in uniform everyone wants to take pictures of us,” Thompson said. “We are not just staying on base. We want to be involved. A lot of people just see the military on TV.”
Thompson said younger Marines are encouraged by their senior counterparts to adopt a “stay in the Marine Corps” mentality. Veterans who have been down that road before can give insight to what life is like after getting out.
Thompson said some younger Marines do not like being told what do to. The guidance he has been given is that the civilian world is much the same.
“No matter where you go, someone will be telling you what to do,” he said.
Taking the uniform out in public allows a side of the Marine Corps to shine through that civilians do not see often, and may give opportunities for others to climb the hill. Thompson said he has been told by recruiters that a Marine from MCLB Albany or Marine Corps Logistics Command can have a significant impact on a poolee at a recruiter’s office.
“When we go out there, it is completely different,” Thompson said. “At high schools, one-on-one conversations with a kid … you don’t know if that talk opens the door.”
In some cases, like with Toys for Tots, the most meaningful part of the interaction may be simply brightening someone’s day.
“I see kids faces brighten up,” Thompson said.
Thompson recently re-enlisted into the Corps, potentially putting him on the path to earning the sergeant rank in the coming months. His decision to re-enlist came from a continued desire to make a difference.
While ranks are important, Thompson said his focus is on a different goal.
“I found something I loved to do in the Marine Corps,” Thompson said. “My bigger goal is to be a drill instructor, but I have to be a sergeant.”
He said, by comparison, MCLB Albany has a different pace than other installations. This has allowed for more time to grow in areas he otherwise may not be able to concentrate on as much.
“Other than see it as a slower tempo, I focus on other things I can do for the Marine Corps,” Thompson said. “I see it as an opportunity to work on being different parts of being a Marine.”
The corporal is 45 credits into earning a college degree, in addition to his volunteer duties.
The relevance of martial arts in military training may not be understood by most. Thompson said it is more than fighting; it is also a break-down of technique and learning to work through mental blocks.
In a real-world combat scenario, circumstances are challenging.
“You can learn how fatigue, distractions (impact things) in the combat mindset,” he said. “You can learn to be ready. It is easy to throw a punch when you are not tired.”
Thompson said he plans to keep the hunger alive and stay in the Corps as long as possible. The corporal said maintaining ambition while remaining humble is something future Marines should be looking toward when paving a career path.
“I can’t see my life without being a Marine,” he said. “Stay hungry; don’t get complacent. The key is to stay humble. If you stop leading, it is time to get out.”