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Fully Committed: A Legacy and Life of Service


Clint Trial and I connected on social media over our penchant for witnessing sunrises, a deep love for our freedoms and the country we call home, and most importantly, those who afforded us our liberties and fought to protect and defend them. 

Clint’s story is one of service, of sacrifice, of family, of following tradition and finding purpose. I’m honored to share just a bit of it with you. 

Clint, why did you join the military?
I can tell you why I didn’t join.. I didn’t join for money, I didn’t join for college … I didn’t join for any reason other than to go and kill America’s enemies… and back then I was convinced that was the only path for me to become a man. A man my father would respect. And for the longest time… that is really all I wanted out of life was to make my father proud of me.

My father was a Marine who served in Vietnam and experienced heavy combat over multiple tours. His military service had a daily impact on my childhood, and I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know or at least have an idea about what a Marine was. I’d seen all of my dad’s uniforms and all the pictures of him in Vietnam. The men he hung around were all combat veterans, so I grew up around great men who served our great nation. 

Most parents shield their children from the vulgarities of everyday life… but my father disagreed with that and instead took the approach of speaking to us like we were young men rather than children. There was no censoring of language or what we were allowed to watch on television. 

In fact, there were very few rules at all…so when the natural curiosity of a 5 or 6 year old boy kicks in I started asking lots of questions. I started with the most basic, “Dad, what was the war like?” Instead of getting a typical Dad answer, I was met with, “It was the most horrible thing there is in life…and I never want you to have to see a war.” 

As time passed during those early years, I continued to peel back the layers underneath my father’s response. I asked about war, was fascinated by all of the war photographs, became aware of the military structure, the branches of service and the differences between them. Ultimately, my father consistently responded, “Military service is the highest form of service to this great nation.” He truly believed that. When you’re a kid, it’s very easy to take on the beliefs of those who raise you. And so I took on that belief. It’s as if I’ve always had it and always will. 

Movies also played into my growing fascination with war. I grew up seeing Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, Uncommon Valor, Rolling Thunder.. and then later on films like First Blood, Commando, Missing In Action, Platoon, Born on Fourth of July… movies that made incredible impressions on me, films where the characters all had this ‘thing’ in common with my father. And so in large part, it would be negligent for me not to add that as a motivating factor in my desire to join. 

Even before I came of age, I was already trying to get into the service. I’d tried to join while I was 16 and got caught in the process. But, a few months later I was in Fort Benning, GA going through bootcamp. 

What does service mean to you and your family? 
When you raise your right hand and speak the oath, you devote yourself fully and completely to the nation. Nothing else comes first. You commit to live your life as a defender of that oath and you vow to uphold it … forever. 

Service to me means fully committed… all chips in, for better or worse, till death do us part. When it was my turn to raise my hand and take the oath, there was no hesitation about it, no second guessing.. all I remember thinking was, “It’s about fuckin’ time they let me do what I was born to do.”

Was I born to serve America? I don’t know. The older I get it seems the less I really know anything. But yes, looking back on my life  it sure feels like I was born to do just that. 

Clint Trial served for more than 22 years, enlisting first in the Army National Guard as an infantryman before joining the Marine Corps. He retired in 2020. Check back next week for more of Clint’s story.