MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- As a rising high school baseball star in his hometown of Tampa, Fla., Robert Meyer had the field presence and athletic ability to almost ensure a promising future on a top collage team. A self acclaimed perfectionist, Meyer would eat, sleep and breathe baseball 24 hours a day, constantly pushing himself towards his dream of a full athletic scholarship.
"Everything I've ever done I always try to push myself to be the best," said Meyer. "I was raised on the idea that if you work hard enough you'll achieve your goal. My focus was on baseball, and I worked hard because I had a goal in mind and I was going to reach it."
With his positive mindset and aggressive work ethic, Meyer was on the fast track to achieving everything he had set out to accomplish. Unfortunately, a car accident at the end of his junior year changed all of that.
"(The crash) messed up my back and neck and I couldn't play baseball my senior year. Because I wasn't able to play I lost my scholarship, which pretty much ended my hopes of a baseball career," said Meyer.
With dreams of baseball glory dashed, finances disappearing and his parents in the middle of a painful divorce, Meyer's outlook was bleak at best. However, even as everything in Meyer's world seemed to be collapsing around him, a light of hope shined through. A chance encounter with a Marine Corps recruiter helped Meyer rediscover his inner strength and gave a renewed purpose to his life. With a new goal on which to set his focus, Meyer began tackling the task of becoming "the best" in an organization that boasted "The Few and The Proud."
Now stationed aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany as a patrol supervisor and special reaction team commander, Cpl. Meyer recalls several leaders that helped guide him from broken athlete to dynamic Marine.
"In Okinawa I had an outstanding NCO, and I totally looked up to him."
Even with dedicated leaders in Okinawa, Meyer says he didn't have the yearning to stay in the Corps.
"I came to (MCLB) Albany with a bad taste in my mouth," Meyer said. According to Meyers, however, MCLB Albany changed his way of thinking. He joined the Special Response Team, an elite military unit equivalent to civilian police department SWAT team.
"I had been in the Marine Corps for two years and I was learning not to look back. I was on a one-way track out of the Corps. SRT really opened my eyes, and had a complete 360 effect on my attitude," said Meyer.
"When Staff Sgt. (Christopher) Kakas took over SRT he really pushed the team; he pushed us to a level we never thought we could accomplish. I held myself to the basic standard, but he held me to a 'higher' standard. He'd say, 'you're doing zero in my book,' when he saw I was doing the minimum, because he knew I could be doing so much more," said Meyer.
At first I didn't even like the sight of him - because he was so demanding of us, but when I commit to something, I'm really dedicated, so I stuck it out. Staff Sgt. Kakas saw that, and he guided me in the right direction. I didn't want to let him down because I knew he saw something in me. He motivated me to be a better person and a better Marine."
Nearing the end of his first enlistment, Meyer discussed future goals with his leaders and shared his concerns about reenlisting.
"My staff sergeant asked me if I thought the Corps would help, and I told him I didn't know. He asked me what I hated about the Corps and I told him," said Meyer.
"I was surprised with how he responded. He told me to stop complaining about things I wish would change and change them myself. That one comment made me actually sit down and think about what I was doing," he added.
Meyer recently reenlisted atop a light-armored vehicle, and plans to pursue even loftier goals as a Marine.
"I want to make an impact on the world. I'd like to go to the Criminal Investigation Division, or maybe further my education and get a degree in criminology. I'm considering making a career out of the Corps, but I'm taking things one step at a time," said Meyer.
"Life is what you make of it. I feel great about the decisions I've made. I'm ready to move on with my career and see what all the Marine Corps still has in store for me."