by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
“It has been a great ride,” said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Phillip Wisniewski of his 16 plus years in the Marine Corps.
Wisniewski, who has traveled from coast-to-coast and now serves in Hawaii, has re-enlisted for another four years that will take him through to his 20th year.
Already, the Rogers City High School (RCHS) alum has served all of his adult life in the Marines, and it may not end there.
It’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience for an upbeat serviceman.
“I have to be honest with you, I would not change anything,” said Phillip, during a phone interview Monday night. “The Marines have given me and my family great experiences. It has put me in a lot of different places. I have met a lot of different people.”
He and his wife Becky, a former Marine, whom he met at the Marine Corps Air
Station in Iwakuni, Japan, have four children they are raising on the island of Oahu, which is where the current base he is stationed at is located along Kaneohe Bay. They have been there for two years.
During that time, his father Eugene “Pork” Wisniewski and stepmother Kathy, have been saving up for a trip to the islands. That time has almost arrived, and of course, it could not be a better time to be closer to the equator, as cold as Michigan has been. They both will be celebrating their birthdays while there.
“I knew it was going to cost quite a bit of money, so we did not go anywhere for the last two years,” said Pork.
The Wisniewski family has deep roots in the Rogers City area, and all the aunts and uncles, as well as his cousins, are proud of their Marine.
“He is still the same person,” said Pork. “He really enjoys his life.”
Phillip crossed the stage at RCHS in June 1997, and two months later, he was at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, where young men and women become Marines.
It would be the first of many destinations, crisscrossing the nation. His next stop was Camp Pendleton for follow-up combat training. Then it was off to Pensacola, Florida where he learned all there is to know about base aviation electronics.
“I can do any platform of aircraft that we have in the Marine Corps. Anything we have,” he said.
Phillip attended another school in Norfolk, Virginia before orders took him to Iwakuni for two years. He left as a lance corporal, before getting marching orders to serve at Marine Aircraft Group 31 in Beaufort, South Carolina.
“There I got promoted twice and became a sergeant, and got more into leadership aspects,” he said. “We preach that pretty heavily from day one. Once you become a non-commissioned officer, you get put into better positions of authority. Like anything, rank has its privileges.”
That was a four-year stint, which included a six-month deployment in 2003 aboard a ship in the Persian Gulf in supports of troops in Iraq.
Becky and Phillip married in October 2004 and ended up back in San Diego where he served as an instructor for three years.
In 2007, he was promoted to staff sergeant and was re-assigned to Cherry Point, North Carolina for more work as an instructor. During that time, he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, for seven months.
Today, he works as the squadron gunnery sergeant for the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS)-24.
“Basically I work directly for the sergeant major and handle a varying amount of tasks like administrative duties, checking in new Marines.
“I handle everything to do with the barracks, where the Marines live, coordinate ceremonies that have me overseeing many moving pieces to include close order drills, and precision movements.
In this billet, he works at the command deck level, or headquarters level, and is the point man on a lot of the ins/outs of the happenings that take place throughout the unit.
“It is the type of job where I’m the guy who gets the calls at all hours when things arise, and then I need to handle it or push it up the chain of command. It’s a very busy job that requires me to put in a good deal of time and effort, but it is also very rewarding to see things unfold and be part of the entire process, and have a small degree of input as to the direction the command may take certain issues.”
Wisniewski is proud of his Rogers City roots, and said, if anything, competitive high school sports, prepared him greatly for life in the Marines, especially football.
“It is a great little town and will always be home. What it did was give me that appreciation when I went to all of these other places. I know everybody always says, ‘hey, we have to get out of Rogers City.’ Once you leave there, it is not as bad as you thought it was.”
Phillip’s mother Judy Haynes lives in Lebanon, Ohio.
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