CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan — A boy was lying in bed. This boy fell asleep with a thud in a rhythmic pattern and a noise that shook his bed, the puff-pff sound of helicopters and gunfire breaking the silence of the night with pops and flashes. This boy fell asleep to the sound of his country’s civil war. This boy, Benjamin, fell asleep, often frightened, and wondered if the militia would enter his house and kill him and his family. He usually never knew if this night was going to be his last.

United States Marine Corps Pfc. Benjamin Crayton, Motor Vehicle Operator at Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, was born in Monrovia, Liberia.
Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, due to the escalation of violence in his country. While in Ivory Coast, he went to school where he played football and ran on the track. It wasn’t long before the war spread further into Africa, and soon the militia was patrolling his street.

“Almost every night I would hear gunshots for hours on end because my house was not far from a popular hotel where the president was staying,” Crayton said. “I heard the militia march past my door at night. It was common to hear gunshots as helicopters flew over my house, firing at the hotel. It was very overwhelming. That’s when I learned that no one was safe, so my family immigrated to Europe.

In 2013, Crayton arrived in France, where he lived with his uncle and aunt and continued his studies. A few years after his arrival, his mother contacted his family members asking to be reunited in the United States. He was afraid to meet his mother. After being persuaded by his family, he agreed to meet her. In late 2014, he traveled to Philadelphia to meet his mother for the first time.

Crayton then began working with his mother. She was a cashier at a local store and helped him get a job as a cart pusher. Crayton worked hard at the store, but it closed a few months later.

“I worked hard when I was at the store, but when the store closed I felt like it was a message from God telling me to do something bigger and better,” said said Crayton. “We decided that my next step in life would be to try to go back to school. I had my green card and a free application for federal student aid, but unfortunately I couldn’t get scholarships or pay for college.

Due to his situation, he became homeless. He got up early in the morning and went to the gym. After a brief training session, he was taking a shower, meeting his friends and something to eat. After finding food, he would then sit down and try to figure out how to fix his situation and find a better life. One day, one of his father’s friends contacted him and told him that he wanted to help him out of his job. After considering his options in Philadelphia, Crayton knew he had to go elsewhere.

He began his search for his new calling in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He then sought employment in Lawrenceville and in the process found new career opportunities with a moving company.

During one of his errands, he met a Marine Corps recruiter who came to see him and asked him about himself and if he was interested in joining the Marine Corps. Crayton believes that everything that happened that day was a sign from God telling him to serve. In February 2021, he arrived at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and started growing after his failures.

“I think when you fail and things feel too hard for you, it’s easy to quit,” he said. “It’s important to me that people expand their minds and bodies. In the Marine Corps, there’s no such thing as quitting. It was hard, but I had to overcome challenges. When I felt like I couldn’t get past an obstacle, I had my Marines to my left and right to help me through.

“Pfc. Crayton has been a hardworking sailor since joining the unit and is always ready to help his peers,’ the gunnery sergeant said. Lawrence Minott, chief of utilities, with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “He is a friendly sailor. He is optimistic, respectful, courteous and appreciated by his peers.

To keep his work ethic high, he pushes back those mental and physical barriers by hitting the gym. “The gym is important to me because all my life I was skinny,” he said. “Being physically fit is something I feel is important as a Marine, but it’s been important to me since long before the Marine Corps. When I’m in the gym, I feel like everything just fits in. order, and that feeling brings me peace from all that’s happened in my past. I set myself a goal each year to achieve a higher physical fitness test and combat fitness test, and go in the gym helps me achieve these goals by helping me be ready for a fight.

“He has proven time and time again that he possesses the ability to adapt to changing demands to support the mission and gains knowledge through every challenge he faces,” Minott said. “He constantly uses what he has learned in the past to better meet the challenges he and his peers will face in the future.”

Crayton explained that we all have good days and bad days in life and everything happens for a reason. The struggles that people go through today and tomorrow are temporary. Life circumstances may seem difficult right now, but we must overcome them and not give up.

“I prayed and believed in myself,” he said. “I realized that I am the only person who can control my life. I look to the Marine Corps and the second chance; I have been given and I feel blessed. This chance allowed me to share my story, and I hope my story helps others who are going through or have gone through the same or worse situations.

Date taken: 20.01.2022
Date posted: 20.01.2022 19:34
Story ID: 413183

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