This is third in a series of articles profiling Marines working aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Cpl. Jakaire Walden always loved aviation. He developed ambitions to become an astronaut, and got pilot licenses for single propeller and twin propeller planes with the intention of eventually becoming a commercial airplane pilot.
Walden talked to an Army recruiter with little knowledge of the military, seeking something of great meaning. He did research on the Navy, and was sold on the idea of becoming a Blue Angel.
He went as far as setting up a meeting with a Navy recruiter.
“I was approached by a Marine after waiting an hour,” Walden said. “After that, it was like poetry in motion. What got me was the pride; being part of a higher purpose.
“I always strive to be above average. If this is the above average branch, I’m for it,” the corporal added.
Walden reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. in 2014. After Marine Combat Training, his first duty station was at Cherry Point, N.C. – where he says much of his leadership skills were attained.
Walden then went on a deployment before going back to Cherry Point. From there, he came to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, where he serves as the Mobile Facilities Program Marine liaison.
His goal of becoming a commercial pilot later appeared more like a taxi job to him, and therefore a less attractive career move the more he looked into his options.
“I wanted to make a bigger impact,” Walden said. “I wanted a sense of accomplishment and a sense of purpose behind it.”
The draw to the Marine Corps for Walden was both pride as well as the potential to become a leader that is not found in other places.
“What makes a Marine is a very hard question,” Walden said. “It’s a unique entity; it’s a beast. It is not made for the weak. You have to continuously improve.”
Walden’s job involves checking on inventory and making sure standards are up to par. It’s a position he said pulls him into tasks involving interaction with Marine Corps Logistics Command.
There is strong incentive to get things right given that lives are at stake.
“You have to have the insight of what you are sending out to the fleet,” Walden said. “It can be hard to undo when something is messed up.”
Meetings held with supervisors help with coordinating issues and making sure everyone is on the same page concerning what is going on in individual sections.
Walden is plugged into the Albany area sports community, and volunteers with the color guard at Westover Comprehensive High School. In his role as a sports volunteer, he has worked in several sports and age groups.
“I take on an advisement role without stepping on toes,” he said.
The corporal said working with children, specifically how they are interacted with, is an important service.
“Parents communicate with me on their kids, they show me report cards and pictures,” Walden said. “My mentors for my sports, I still have connections with. The kids (I work with) can talk to someone besides their parents.”
“I take my kids very seriously,” the corporal said.
Walden is connected to the Single Marine Program, which has a role in advocating for the quality of life needs of Marines.
“You can’t do the job well without quality of life,” he said.
Walden said MCLB Albany is unique in that, while there is a general idea of what a day will bring when coming through the gate, an individual may not know what will actually come.
“For professional development, this is definitely the place,” he said.
Walden has already made the decision to move forward with his career and re-enlist.
“To take care of Marines is what has kept me in,” he said.
Walden’s guidance to future Marines is to go in it for the man or woman to the left and right. Marines need to be willing to take care of Marines.
“Make sure you are doing it for someone else and not yourself,” he said.