South Fulton grad selected for USMC warrant officer
Posted: Monday, October 13, 2008 9:05 pm
By JOHN BRANNON
Messenger Staff Reporter
On May 20, 1994, at the tender age of 18, Marcus Tanner of South Fulton graduated from South Fulton High School.
On May 23, 1994, he was far away, undergoing U.S. Marine Corps basic training — “boot camp” — at Parris Island, S.C.
And now, 14 years later, that young and very raw recruit of yesteryear has received special recognition. He has been selected by the U.S. Marine Corps for appointment to warrant officer.
He is to report to Quantico, Va., in January, to begin a four-month Warrant Officer Basic Course. “I’ll be commissioned on Feb. 2,” he said.
Tanner is a platoon commander with the Chemical, Biological and Incident Response Force (CBIRF) in Indian Head, Md.
As you might imagine, making the mental and physical transition from civilian to infantryman in the U.S. Marine Corps was quite a cultural shock.
But the youngster from South Fulton adjusted. And he stayed with it.
Tanner, now 33, has reenlisted three times, is now in his 14th year on active duty service and has advanced to the rank of staff sergeant (E6).
Over the years, his duty assignments have varied. But they include two tours in war-torn Iraq as an infantry platoon sergeant.
“Ours was a weapons platoon. It had about 55 men,” he said. “We did mounted patrols and ground patrols all over Iraq. You name it, we did it.”
His platoon suffered five KIAs (killed in action) and several WIAs (wounded in action). “I lost a couple of good friends because of enemy action,” Tanner said.
He is a trained infantryman with a specialty in nuclear, biological and chemical operations.
His awards and decorations include the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal with ‘V’ device for valor, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy Achievement Medal and the Navy Unit Medal (four awards).
“Other than being blessed with a good wife and wonderful son, the Marine Corps is the best thing that ever happened to me,” Tanner said. “My relationship with God has enabled me to do what I do today. It’s a good life. A blessed life.”
Tanner is the son of Patsy McCaig of South Fulton and the late Steven Tanner.
“When he came back from Iraq after his first tour, he did a presentation at his church,” Mrs. McCaig said. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the place, including mine. When he went back the second time, his platoon was ambushed and his platoon sergeant got injured. He took over the platoon and provided leadership.”
Tanner is married to the former Stephanie Lynn Rooks of Martin. They have a son, Hudson, age 1. The Messenger could not contact Tanner’s wife for comment.
“As a mother, I am very proud of him. I couldn’t ask for a better son,” said Mrs. McCaig. “His little boy is just like him. Looks so much like his daddy. He’s a good father and husband and an awesome Marine. His blood runs red, white and blue.”
The Messenger asked Mrs. McCaig if she was surprised that her son joined the Marines as soon as he graduated from high school.
“Surprised? I guess not,” she said. “His dad was in the Navy. He had talked to Navy recruiters and they had come to our house. I talked him out of going into the Navy. Well, he got interested in the Marines and I couldn’t talk him out of it. He was determined to do it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want him to serve his country, I was just concerned about where he might go and that he might die.
“I had a lot of fear about his going to other countries. He was determined, so I stood behind him and encouraged him. He has done well. He’s a very focused young man.
When he was ordered to Iraq, I cried, his wife cried, his mother-in-law cried. But he was excited about it. He sat me down and talked to me like I was a child. “Mother, you know I’m saved. If the Lord takes me, I’m ready. Don’t worry about it.”
Published in The Messenger 10.13.08