Colonel retires after 40 years of service
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Okinawa, Japan -- Col. John C. Wright retired at a ceremony here Nov. 29, following 40 years of committed and faithful service to the Corps.
Wright, the chief of staff of Marine Corps Installations Pacific, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1972 as a security forces guard, and his first tour was on the USS Independence.
“I never pictured myself where I am today,” said Wright. “I was determined to be a Marine, although I never thought I would stay in longer than four years. I also never thought I would make it into the officer corps.”
After turning 18, Wright received his draft notice for the Vietnam War, but instead of being drafted, he chose to enlist.
“All those I knew who were being drafted were going into the Army, and I did not want that to happen to me,” said Wright. “I had always wanted to be a Marine because my grandfather was a Marine and he shared many good memories of his time in the Corps.”
Another reason Wright desired to be a Marine was because of the Marine Corps’ reputation of being a tough organization that truly cares about its members, according to Wright.
The reputation of taking care of its own holds true not only for Marines, but also their family members, according to Wright’s wife Karen.
“I will miss it so much,” she said. “I feel like I grew up as a Marine spouse. I’ve made many friends participating in numerous volunteer opportunities. The Marine Corps is my family.”
Being a Marine wife has been an exciting and unforgettable adventure, according to Karen. After 37 years, the corporal she married is now retiring as a colonel.
“The Marine Corps was a huge influence on him since he enlisted at a young age,” said Karen. “He’s had many mentors over the years to help him become the successful person he is today, and I believe he will miss the Marine Corps immensely.”
Adjusting to civilian life will take some time for Wright because he has spent many years wearing the uniform, according to his wife.
Many Marines inspired Wright throughout the years, but one of the most influential in his life was Maj. Gen. George M. Karamarkovich, according to Wright.
As a staff sergeant, Wright served with Karamarkovich while he was a squadron commander and again when Karamarkovich was the commanding general of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Karamarkovich encouraged Wright to become a warrant officer and later a commissioned officer.
Other Marines Wright cites as mentors include junior officers who helped him early in his enlisted career, commandants who led the Marine Corps through trying times, and Maj. Gen. Peter J. Talleri, the commanding general of MCIPAC and Marine Corps Base Camp Butler.
“Maj. Gen. Talleri is a very sound leader whom I try to emulate as best I can,” said Wright. “He is a superb general officer and a tremendous force for the Marine Corps.”
Wright is a reliable Marine who always works to the best of his ability, and it is an honor to serve with him, according to Talleri.
“Some men were destined to be Marines, and there is no doubt that Wright is one of those men,” said Talleri. “This is the life he was meant to live, and he has done it well. I know he has done a lot for his family and himself, but at the end of the day, he has done so much for our nation.”
As Wright’s career comes to a close, he has some advice to offer all Marines, current and future.
“Don’t be an opportunist – create the opportunity,” said Wright. “Be the participant you need to be in the Marine Corps, do it for the institution and not for yourself – in time, it will come back to you. Don’t be satisfied with what is in your resume right now – always seek to improve yourself. Go to college – it will benefit you whether you want to stay in the Marine Corps or not. Encourage others to improve themselves. Finally, do not develop a zero-defect personality – people are going to make mistakes, and it is up to you as a leader or future leader to respond and help them when they fall short.”