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Photo Information

Cpl. Eric Griswold (left), joint fires observer with 5th Air Naval Gun Liaison Company, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Lance Cpl. Robert Major, SAW gunner with Company A, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st MEU, go over enemy coordinates during a simulated close air support exercise, Nov. 9.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler C. Vernaza

Marine pursues dream of flying

14 Nov 2010 | Lance Cpl. Tyler C. Vernaza

A Marine with Company A, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is on the verge of making his dreams of becoming a pilot a reality.

 Lance Cpl. Robert Major, a SAW gunner with Co. A, recently completed a six-day period of instruction that included learning how to control aircraft from the ground as a joint terminal attack controller.

“Talking with the pilots and about flying reminded me how much I wanted to become a pilot,” said Major.

Ever since Major was a sophomore in high school, he has dreamed of becoming a pilot someday. And with his growing knowledge of military aviation and his past experiences with flying, he isn’t far from it.

“My fascination with airplanes began in high school,” said Major. “I had a friend, a few years older than I, who flew ultra-lights, a small, one-man aircraft.”

Over the next few years, Major began learning about basic piloting, maneuvering, take-offs, landings and different types of formations. After high school, Major wanted to go to college and get his degree in avionics, but he seemed to have another calling.

 On September 11th, 2001, Major walked into his English class to find his teacher and classmates glued to the television. At first Major was happy to see that they might be watching a movie in class that day, but as he realized the reality of the events happening on the television screen, he was overcome with grief.

 “I had just been in New York visiting family a few weeks prior, and I couldn’t believe what had happened,” he said.

On that day, at 12-years-old, he says something changed in him. Major decided, from that moment on, that he would join the military and serve his country. On June 17, 2007, Major began recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., and eventually became an infantryman.

 “I still wanted to be a pilot, but I felt like I had to put that on hold for a while,” said Major. “But my mom was happy for me right away, when I told her I wanted to enlist.” Now with only four months left on his enlistment, Major says his time in the Corps has been extremely satisfying.

 “These past four years have been everything I wanted, short of a combat tour,” he said. “Everything I wanted to accomplish, I have accomplished. I have this self-reliance I didn’t have before and I know I can push myself to attain my goal of flying.”

Major also says he intends to use the G.I. Bill to go to college in western Michigan and major in avionics and he believes the military training he has received will help him in the long run.

 “This information will definitely help anyone wanting to pursue a career in aviation,” said Sgt. Jerry Parramore, team leader with fire control team 10, 5th Air Naval Gun Liaison Company, 31st MEU. “Just being familiar with how the ‘ground side’ of flying works and knowing the vernacular will give him an edge before going to college.”

Right now, Major says he is planning on becoming a business pilot, flying private jets, although, he remains open-minded about the possibility of flying for the military.

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit