MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- -- His office is covered in various mementos gathered from various locations and individuals through his 27-year tenure in the Marine Corps. From statues to coins, from certificates to plaques, it is easy to tell that this Marine has been many places and had many experiences.
Some were reminiscent of good times, others of bad times.
?I remember one time we had to march 10 miles in the freezing cold, just to eat cold chow,? said Sgt. Maj. Cassian Porcha, Materiel Command sergeant major. There were times the Marine questioned what he was doing, lying in the mud, marching in the cold just to eat cold rice in a foreign country. But ask him now and he?ll tell you he wouldn?t have it any other way.
Now that he is aboard MCLB Albany he is looking forward to learning how things operate here. Porcha recently went to the Maintenance Center during a tour of the base, and was very impressed by the workers and the quality of work they do.
?The civilians I met explained jobs very professionally, they were top notch,? said Porcha. ?I think the Marine Corps can rest assured that MatCom is doing the very best it can to support their Marines out in the fleet. It was just phenomenal.?
After the tour, Porcha said he had a better idea of what went on behind the scenes, and gained a greater appreciation for the process.
Porcha had wanted to be a Marine since he was 10 years old. He and his father watched war movies together and saw the Marines storm beaches and win wars. After seeing a commercial about how Marines are the best of the best, his mind was made up.
Twenty-seven years later, the desire to be the best of the best is still there, though it has been somewhat satiated.
?There is no other branch or service in the world that has as much pride as the Marines,? said Porcha.
Porcha has served numerous duties. He has worked as a sergeant instructor at Officers Candidate School, at The Basic Course, showing officers different weapon systems, and as a drill instructor.
?Being a drill instructor is probably the one that stands out the most,? Porcha said. ?Because every Marine who becomes a drill instructor knows that you are giving back to the Marine Corps by molding the next generation of Marines.
?Don?t get me wrong,? he continued, ?recruiters work equally as hard in recruiting these Marines, and I applaud their efforts.?
But imagine taking an individual from the street and changing his bad habits in just three months, having changed him so much by graduation day that sometimes not even his parents recognize him. Porcha said that is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
While serving as a drill instructor, Porcha was also called upon to be a Water Safety Survival Instructor, where he qualified recruits in swimming.
From boot camp, one of the swimming instructor trainers took him to Black Mountain, N.C., where he underwent training to become a lifeguard, and all they did was ?swim, swim, swim, swim, swim.
?First thing in the morning, dew was still coming off the lake and we had to get in the water,? Porcha recalled, now able to smile about the events.
?That was the toughest thing that I?ve done in the Marine Corps. I have never swum that much, in my life,? he said.
Swimming almost drowned him at an early age. When he swam, he stayed in the shallow end. One day he remembers watching an old lady swim back and forth across the pool.
?Here I was, a young kid and I couldn?t swim, but here was this old lady who could.?
Porcha said that motivated him to mimic the old lady?s actions, and slowly but surely, he began teaching himself to swim.
At one point he got a little over confident and headed for the deep end. He was holding on to the wall when his hands slipped and he began to sink. Struggling just pushed him further away from safety?s grasp. As he drifted further from the side of the pool. He remembered a commercial that he had seen earlier that day that fit his situation. The commercial said that if you ever found yourself in this position, you should throw both of your arms down to shoot yourself up, and that is what he did Ð repeatedly, until help arrived.
?From that point on, I made sure I knew how to swim,? he said. ?It was well worth it because I taught my children how to swim and now they aren?t afraid to get in the water.?
Through the years, Porhca found his inspiration for leadership in many places, one was a gunnery sergeant he met while teaching at OCS, a gunnery sergeant and a Vietnam veteran.
?He was hard as nails, but he knew his stuff,? said Porcha.
Porcha learned a lot of leadership techniques and practices that helped him develop.
And according to Sgt. Major Lewis Bell, 2d Marine Air Wing, Cherry Point, N.C., Porcha?s OCS gunnery sergeant did a good job.
?He [Porcha] is a good listener,? said Bell. ?He will listen to whatever you have to say, and then tell get you to fix the problem.?
Bell, who has known Porcha for 20 years, served with him at his last duty station.
?In addition to having the body of a 17-year-old PT (physical training) stud, he is the type of leader who always has your back, but lets you gain experience and leadership skills through your actions,? said Bell.
Porcha said that if there was one piece of advice he could give to up and coming Marines, it would be to stay focused.
?Be professional and your career will really blossom,? said Porcha. ?If you want to grow as a Marine, then do your PMEs, try and do as many schools that you can, and try and do something different from your MOS. Experience all sides of the Marine Corps.?