CAMP GRAYLING, Mich. – Sitting calmly and collectively on a U.S. Army Boeing CH-47 Chinook in flight, Capt. John Howarth the company operations liaison officer with Echo Company, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, watches as Reconnaissance Marines jump out of the helicopter during exercise Northern Strike 17. Worn proudly above his left breast pocket are his Combatant Diver and Naval Parachutist badge, symbolizing his experience and hard work.
An 18 year veteran of the Marine Corps, Howarth has seen it all. First enlisting in to the Marine Corps Reserves after high school, Howarth has always wanted to challenge himself, signing up and completing multiple qualification courses.
“I’ve always wanted to go to the hardest schools to prove myself,” said Howarth. “Having that sense of accomplishment in completing something difficult is something that I love.”
As an enlisted Marine, Howarth first served in a Sniper Platoon and eventually deployed to Iraq. After returning from Iraq he made the decision to complete his degree and pursue his dream of commissioning as an infantry officer, where he was given the opportunity to return to his Sniper platoon. Following a deployment to Afghanistan and working with Reconnaissance Marines, Howarth decided to challenge himself to become a Reconnaissance Marine.
“I’ve worked with Recon units during deployments and I liked how they had more opportunities to go to courses and do more things,” said Howarth.
His participation in Northern Strike 17 began directly after he completed a dive supervisor course and he is currently scheduled to attend a free fall course three weeks after the conclusion of the exercise. Constantly striving to better himself, Howarth takes what he hears after Marines complete difficult courses and the experiences they have while training and accepts them as an opportunity for personal growth.
“Hearing the experiences of Marines that I look up to, really motivates me to do better,” said Howarth. “That feeling of accomplishment and progression is something all Marines should strive for.”
Howarth values the opportunities he’s had to go to diverse courses throughout his career in reconnaissance, emphasizing how reconnaissance units are consistently providing Marines opportunities to better themselves and seek more training.
“Reconnaissance is always a high demand unit, Marines who come here will get to work, go to schools and go on deployments,” said Howarth. “For someone who wants rewarding and difficult training and to push themselves, reconnaissance is a great unit to join.”
Howarth’s advice to other Marines is to be proactive in their career choices and to aspire to become the best version of themselves.
As he approaches his 20 year mark in the Marine Corps, Howarth says he feels as if his career of working in the field is slowing down. However, he is still looking forward to attending courses to further his Marine Corps career, but more as an instructor and supervisor to help future Marines.