TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- As we approach the anniversary of "a new day of infamy," a pessimist might complain, "He's still out there" or, "What do we have to look forward to, sending more of our American troops overseas?" It seemed in recent weeks that even America's pastime was in jeopardy, but the strike was avoided and the season continues.
One 2d Marine Regiment armorer, with a heritage as rich in baseball as New York, shares his words of wisdom and encouragement with his fellow Marines currently here participating in Combined Arms Exercise 10-02.
Corporal Jason L. Bright, a Kansas City, Mo., native will soon reach his end of active duty service, and receive his Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps, but he utilizes the time he has left to share his accomplishments with the other Marines, one of which is earning his associates degree while on active duty, and push them to use their time as wisely as he did.
"That's something I want to do too," Lance Cpl. Fabio M. Villarroel, an Arlington, Va., native said. "Corporal Bright has his head on straight and knows where he's going."
Villarroel said his wife and parents were home in Arlington, Va., last year when the Pentagon was hit. He said his parents were so close that it shook their house, but his wife was closer, so they were more worried about her. He was at his home base, Camp Lejeune, N.C., working when he saw the second tower get hit on television.
"It seemed like it was fake," the supply clerk said. "I wanted to be able to tell them it would be alright, but there's really nothing you can say in a situation like that."
He wasn't the only one to see the overwhelming tragedy on television. Bright said he was here at CAX last year when it happened. He arrived at the armory that morning for work and his staff sergeant told him about what had happened. Sure enough, when Bright went to the Warrior's Club it was on the televisions.
"It was a shock - to everybody! It kind of reminded me of a movie, but it wasn't," Bright recounted. "That's all we heard the rest of the time we were out here."
Bright, being an educated man and spending his most recent years in the Corps, understands that this unpleasant incident isn't the last act of terror America will see.
"It's not going to end there, so we have to keep our heads in the game," he said. "We don't know what else they have in store for us, but it's like I tell my mom, 'Do what you're doing and stay comfortable. Do what you do everyday - we're (Marines) here to worry about the frustrations.'"
Bright said because he has been there, he can go on with his life outside of the Marine Corps having peace of mind and knowing that the terrorists will be caught one day.
He said he could easily spend 20 years in the Marine Corps, but he thinks when he is sergeant major, he'll look back and regret it -- not getting out and proving to himself what all he can do.
"I have a lot left," he said. "There's a lot left in me that I have to prove to myself."
Bright has big plans for himself playing baseball, but he said if he doesn't make it big he will take up criminal justice. Psychology is something that he really enjoyed while earning his associate's degree. He tells his fellow warriors to find something they enjoy, even if it's only one thing.
"Do something for yourself, whether it's the gym or whatever - do something for yourself. See, I brought my baseball bat to CAX," he said.
Bright has a big influence on his fellow Marines. They really seem to look up to him - many of them bought baseball gloves out here and play catch with him in the afternoons.
Bright's Marine Corps career will end in March. He has saved money and invested while he has been in, and suggests others do the same. He tells them to do things to better themselves, to get them where they need to be, so that when their EAS arrives, they will have an option of staying in or have something to fall back on if they want to get out.
Bright and his fellow warriors will complete CAX 10 and begin returning home to Camp Lejeune, N.C., next week. He plans to attend the University of Arizona in the fall. He has friends there who can help him train in the off-season, so he can be a walk-on in the spring.