Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Flowers came out of high school to take on service in the U.S. Marine Corps, looking for growth in the next chapter.
He has had the chance to build on that growth at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany while investing in the resources which built him.
Flowers, of Moultrie, entered the Marine Corps via delayed entry in 2005. He graduated from Colquitt County High School in 2006, entering Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island that June.
“I was looking for something that would challenge me,” Flowers, now the adjutant chief at MCLB Albany, said. “Marine Corps boot camp is one of the hardest initial trainings. I thought if I could make it through that, I could make it through life.”
Moultrie is located roughly 30 miles from MCLB Albany.
The training at Parris Island is meant to break a recruit down and then build them back up over the course of 13 weeks. This later enables the Marine to work with the man next to them under varying and sometimes stressful circumstances.
That’s a skill Flowers has benefited from. It’s also contributed to him remaining in the Corps and maturing as a leader.
“Today, we work as a team for mission accomplishment,” he said. “I take care of the Marines under me and the ones I serve. I am responsible for the Marines in my unit.”
“Taking care of these Marines is what has driven me to stay.”
Flowers is part of what is the world’s top fighting force. It brings a strong sense of pride for him.
“One of the amazing things about the Marine Corps is that no matter when or how long you have served, we are all a part of the same team and share the same camaraderie. Every Marine not only has a sense of great pride in serving the nation and this organization, but also pride in helping those in need,” the gunnery sergeant said.
It is rare in any military career for a service member to be so close to home. Flowers is soon to leave Albany for the next duty station grateful for the time he’s had a short drive away from Moultrie.
“I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with family,” he said. “My family is very proud of me.”
He has done more than catch up with loved ones while in serving in Albany. Flowers found time to invest in the same resources that brought him up.
“Since I have been back in the area, I have been able to give back,” Flowers said. “I have been invited back to my high school to speak to the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps about my time there. I spoke to the cadets about their future.”
He’s also given back to the southwest Georgia community by participating on the funeral honors team at MCLB Albany. A request for funeral honors starts at Headquarters Marine Corps and works its way to the local units, where the teams at those units respond.
Most requests filtered to MCLB Albany are from the families of Marine veterans in the southwest Georgia area.
“It’s been an honor to go to these funerals and provide a positive image,” Flowers said. “We always take care of our Marines.”
Flowers’ service has taken him to Washington, D.C., Iraq, Italy, Virginia, Florida and South Carolina. Each area has its own culture, and there is no place like home.
“I’m used to the area, and used to the culture here,” he said. “A lot has not changed here in 17 years.”
The changes he has seen and experienced since his time in active duty has facilitated growth in his service to the United States.
“In the last 17 years, every year has been different,” Flowers said. “I have matured as a person and become a better man and Marine. The actions, decisions I make now are for my future, as opposed to the short-term decisions I made as a younger Marine.”
He is working on setting in motion what his life will be like once he hangs up the uniform. The possibilities include finishing his counterterrorism degree and going into law enforcement, or going to a trade school to do electrical work.
“I have been advised to have at least three plans when exiting the Marine Corps. You never know what the future holds,” Flowers said.