TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Gage Vielee is a native of Chatawa, Mississippi, and manager at Bebo’s Casino in Kentwood, Louisiana. But, to the Marines of Truck Company, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, he’s known as Lance Cpl. Gage Vielee, a motor transportation mechanic and hard-charging warfighter with the Marine Corps Reserve.
“Becoming a Marine was a calling,” said Vielee. “I was in a rut for a very long time, working three jobs. It was like something just hit me one day while I was at work. I remember thinking 'I should go talk to a recruiter.' I went and spoke with one, and, that day, I was signing the papers. And, to top it off, I'm the first Marine in my family.”
Reserve Marines, like Vielee, spend at least two consecutive weeks each year furthering their capabilities at annual training exercises across the globe. This year, he and his Baton Rouge based unit are spending June at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, conducting an exercise called Integrated Training Exercise 4-18.
ITX 4-18 is a service level training event which aims to prepare units for combat under the most realistic conditions possible. The Marines are taking advantage of MCAGCC Twentynine Palms’ expansive desert to replicate conditions they could very well face on a possible, future deployment.
“So far I think it's been very interesting,” Vielee said. “The heat gets to you. But I think if you ever deploy to the Middle East, then this is a great place to come train for it. Within the first couple days, I've had a lot of fun, and I'm hoping to learn quite a bit while I'm here.”
While his duties as a manager don’t involve inspecting, maintaining, and repairing a fleet of motor transport vehicles which serve an entire battalion of Marines, Vielee has used the skills he has learned in the Marine Corps to further himself in the positions he possesses in the civilian workforce.
“My civilian job benefits a great deal from me being in the Marine Corps,” Vielee said. “The classes that I attend teach leadership skills and how to manage, communicate and teach others about culture. Since my job is to manage other people in the civilian world, it's given me a better understanding of how to work with people and manage them. I've benefited a great deal from the Marine Corps.”