DURNESS, SCT, UNITED KINGDOM -- What one's family has done in the past frequently has a long standing history for what future generations will often times strive to become. Carrying on his father's legacy of being a career Marine from 1985-2015 has given Sgt. Michael Kozik the opportunity to keep the Marine Corps heritage alive.
“The biggest reason why I joined the Marine Corps was because my dad was a Marine,” said Kozik. “I was looking for something that would really challenge me, and this pointed in that direction from the time I was a kid to when I was in college. Family history and being around the lifestyle all the time made it even easier to join the Marines.”
Kozik, a Valparaiso, Indiana, native and Reserve Marine with 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Force Headquarters Group, is participating in exercise Joint Warrior 18 as a joint fires observer, in Durness, Scotland, April 18-May 2, 2018. When not conducting his Marine Corps duties, Kozik is a private pilot in Miami, Florida.
“Exercises like Joint Warrior benefit not only myself, but my team as well,” said Kozik. “When we attach to foreign militaries, we are able to communicate effectively our capabilities as well as learn certain skills they have that can help develop us as better ANGLICO Marines. Coming from such a different climate, I'm hoping we can learn more about cold weather boat operations and other things of that nature.”
Reserve Marines like Kozik typically spend a minimum of two weeks each year honing their capabilities at their prescribed annual training event. This year, his West Palm Beach, Florida, based unit is taking advantage of everything Scotland has to offer.
“Scotland has been an interesting AT due to its nature and, we don't really have many exercises with other NATO militaries to this scale,” said Kozik. “Being here has allowed me to refine my abilities to utilize NATO navy ships for fire support and other maritime operations.”
In his eight years of service, Kozik has been given the opportunity to deploy to multiple countries, giving him the benefit of looking at these exercises from a different perspective.
As a JFO, and a firepower control team leader for Joint Warrior 18, Kozik is reminded of what his mission is - to provide Marine Air-Ground Task Force Commanders a liaison capability to plan, coordinate, and conduct terminal control of fires in support of joint, allied and coalition forces. With that knowledge and his 2016-2017 deployment campaigns behind him, and the certainty of future drills and exercises in the future, Kozik knows that his training has prepared him for anything that might come his way.
“The things that I've learned here, like cold weather operations to fire support, will easily carry in to my next deployment and other future exercises I'll attend,” said Kozik. “All of this will definitely allow me to be a better enabler during future operations for not only myself but with my own team as well.”