Whitman native and Marine Corps 1st Lt. Daniel J. Rogers, now serving a deployment in Okinawa, Japan since Feb. 12, gave a brief interview to the Whitman-Hanson Express Friday, March 24 on his experiences in the Corps through the offices of Defense Media Activity (DMA).
A Department of Defense agency, DMA is a direct line of communication for news and information to U.S. forces deployed worldwide, on land, sea and air. It presents news, information and entertainment through media outlets, including radio, TV, Internet, print media and emerging media technologies. DMA broadcasts radio and television to forces in 177 countries and 279 Navy ships at sea with Department-specific news and information programming.
Lt. Rogers spoke via telephone-Skype connection arranged by the DMA at 8 p.m. Okinawa time (7 a.m. locally) after a long day of work.
He is a 2010 graduate of WHRHS and went on to study Finance at Norwich University in Vermont. His two brothers — Mark, a 2013 W-H grad, and Luke, a 2016 graduate — are also serving in the Marine Corps, as did Lt. Rogers’ father and “a few uncles and cousins” have also served their country as Marines.
“I guess it does kind of seem like a trend at this point,” he said.
Q: How long have you been in the Corps?
A: “I have been in for almost three years, now.”
Q: Why did you decide to join?
A: “Growing up, I would see a lot of pictures of my family members that were in the Marine Corps before me, and I always knew it was something that I wanted to do for a multitude of different reasons. When I became closer to graduating high school, I was looking into my options there and my parents encouraged me to apply for an NROTC scholarship to be an officer.
“I applied for an NROTC scholarship and got it, so I went to school for four years and I commissioned as a second lieutenant in May of 2014. … I went to [Officer Candidate School] the summer between my junior and senior year [at Norwich].”
Q: How does your finance major enter into the MOS (military occupational specialty) in which you now work?
A: “It definitely doesn’t directly relate — I’m an infantry officer [platoon leader] right now, but believe it or not there are times when I do use some of the things that I learned at Norwich.”
Q: How so?
A: “Being a platoon commander, you’re definitely in charge, or responsible I should say, for all aspects of your Marines’ lives — whether it be training them to be ready for combat or making sure that they’re set to make responsible decisions in their personal lives. Those are all things I have to worry about, so when the time does come, and it is time for us to do our job, they are ready — full mind, body, training — ready to go. Finance doesn’t really sound like it relates, but being able to talk to my Marines about things like where they stand financially, how they’re doing and some good decisions that they could be making.
“Like anything, if you’re having problems back home, it will affect you at work, so that’s one more thing I can help them with so we can all be ready.”
Q: What are some of the current projects you can speak to?
A: “We’re forward deployed here. Big-picture, it’s to maintain security across the Pacific. We’re a force in readiness out here in case some type of conflict or crisis does arise. We’re also strengthening our relationship with our allies out here, training with them and enhancing our capabilities to work together.
Q: What is Okinawa like and have you had much interaction with its people?
A: “It’s a beautiful island, the beaches are unbelievable when we do get to go. It’s a very small island — it’s only 60-something miles long and 17 miles at its widest point. So the dominating things are the Marine and Air Force bases here.
“It does have a very rich culture, an offshoot of Japanese culture, so there’s a lot to explore if you have the time to do so. Right now, we’re working six days a week, but on the seventh we do get the opportunity to go out in town and kind of explore and have some time to try the local food, meet the local people and see the sights.”
Q: Other places you’ve been able to experience?
A: “This past spring we were in BALTOPS, which stands for Baltic Operations, and we did something similar to this where we went out and trained with a lot of our partner nations in Sweden, Finland and Poland. We also got to get off the ship and explore in Estonia, the Netherlands, Norway and Iceland. I got to see a lot of countries and meet a lot of people that I never would have been able to experience outside of the Marine Corps.”
Q: Are you planning on making military service your career?
A: “It’s too early to tell right now, but I’m definitely enjoying it now.”
Q: Any advice to youth considering military service?
A: “I definitely encourage it and would tell them to keep working hard where they’re at and, once they do make a decision to do whatever they do, give it everything they have. Go in with an open mind and soak in everything that you can, learn as much as you can and do the best that you can.”
Q: Any foreign language you’d recommend studying?
A: “Now that I’ve been through seven countries in Europe and we’re going to be passing around Southeast Asia, too, it seems almost any language will be able to help you out. You never know where you’re going to go. The Marine Corps is ready to go anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, so any language or experience you can bring to the table, there will definitely be a time and place where we could use it.”
Q: What do you miss most about Whitman?
A: “It’s actually in Hanson — I’d have to say Damien’s pizza on Route 58. You’ve got to love the local watering hole. I still argue with people that that’s the best pizza in the world, right there.”
Q: How can people best support deployed troops? Care packages you’d like to receive?
A: “Everyone likes different things. I guess it kind of depends on what that person misses from home. We have a lot of access to any resources we might need, so for those who get homesick, if their families send them small momentos … You’ve got to keep them grounded to back home, but also keep their head focused over here, as well.”