From Africa to America and Now a Marine

From Africa to America and Now a Marine

Pvt Arthur G. Whisnant, Platoon 2166, Hotel Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, studies Marine knowledge during squad bay duty at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., Aug. 11. Whisnant is a Freetown, Sierra Leon, native and was recruited out of Recruiting Station Houston. Photo by Sgt Walter D. Merino.

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (Aug. 15, 2014) - Before he was born, Pvt Arthur G. Whisnant, had already moved once. While his mother was pregnant with him, she moved from Monrovia, Liberia, in order to protect her unborn child from the hazards of civil war.

She moved to Freetown, Sierra Leon, but soon found war had spread there as well, and soon after his birth, his family moved once more to Guinea.

Whisnant, Platoon 2166, Hotel Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, explained his parents split when he was a child and his uncle assumed a father figure role for him.

When Whisnant was five years old, his uncle decided to move his own family to America and told his sister he would take the young boy with him if she was willing to make the sacrifice of being separated.

Whisnant explained his mother decided that although there wasn't a war in Guinea, there was still a lot of poverty, and the United States provided her son with better opportunities.

Soon after settling in Houston, his uncle legally adopted him. Whisnant said his uncle became his real father and his cousins became his brothers and sisters.

Whisnant said he routinely prayed and went to church and felt that life was good up until his father died.

Following the incident, he remembers hanging out with the wrong crowd and ditching school.

 "He was my real dad, to me," said the 21-year-old solemnly. "I started to skip classes because I was upset with what happened."

After high school, Whisnant decided he wanted a positive change in his life. But after realizing he could not afford college, he was stuck with a tough desicion.

Family members suggested the military as an option, but Whisnant said it was a difficult thing to consider because he had come from a war torn country.

"My mom has been through war, and she didn't want this for me," said Whisnant. "She thought I would get injured and or die in the military."

After much internal struggle however, he said he realized the military was a way to give back to the country that has given him so much and quickly enlisted in the Marine Corps.

Whisnant is scheduled to become an American citizen on Aug. 14, just one day before graduating from recruit training.

He said following graduation he plans on finding a way to bring his mother and five siblings to United States.

Whisnant explained he is concerned about his mother's health because she has malaria and was sick the last time he spoke with her.

 "I don't know exactly how," said Whisnant. "I just want to bring her over here so she can feel safe, have good medical care and not have to work… to just let me do the work."

Sgt Jorge Castillanos, drill instructor, Platoon 2166, said he's proud of Whisnant's growth and believes his journey from a country in war to being a Marine is remarkable.

 "It just shows what king of character he has," said Castillanos. "To be from a different country and be willing to serve and protect the country that has been so great to him, this is what this land was built on."


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