PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- A 28-year Marine returned to the Yellow Footprints here, the exact place where his Marine Corps career began, to pin on the rank of chief warrant officer five, Dec. 19.
Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Kessinger, now the 6th Marine Corps District personnel officer, arrived to recruit training on an infantry contract Dec. 17, 1990.
Over the next 28 years, the native of Louisville, Kentucky served in Marine Security Forces, changed occupational specialties twice, deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom twice, married, and fathered five children.
Kessinger, who transitioned from infantry to logistics before earning a warrant officer commission and becoming a 0170 personnel officer, said the opportunity to lead has kept him in well past his 20-year mark, when he originally became eligible for retirement.
“I love being in charge of Marines, being part of their daily life, and sharing my experiences to help them along in their life,” he said.
Kessinger said he isn’t sure how much longer he’ll remain in the Corps but senses this chapter of life is coming to a close.
Kessinger called the experience of being promoted on the Yellow Footprints surreal.
The Yellow Footprints mark the place where recruits first set foot after sprinting off the bus at Parris Island. The footprints are set at the position of attention: heels together, feet turned outward, forming a 45-degree angle. As bewildered recruits rush off the bus and snap to attention atop these footprints, they struggle to orient themselves to an unfamiliar and unfriendly environment where they will be transformed from civilians to Marines over 13 weeks.
Eventually, recruits standing at attention in a state of bewilderment become career Marines standing at attention in front of a formation, listening to the words of their promotion warrant.
“It was bringing me full circle,” said Kessinger. “It felt like my career was complete at this point in time.”