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Motor-vating Marine lost more than 200 pounds to join the Corps

Motor-vating Marine lost more than 200 pounds to join the Corps

Story by LCpl Paige Verry on 01/18/2019

“It isn’t how you’re feeling about yourself right now, it’s about who you want to become,” says Private First Class Samuel J. Whitfield, once a 365-pound Wal-Mart employee, who currently serves as a Marine motor transport operator with Headquarters and Service Battalion aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. In just a year and three months, he lost 205 pounds.
“You need to say, I will get there. I will get this done.'”

From the countryside of LaFayette Georgia to the Crossroads of the Marine Corps, Whitfield conquered his shortcomings and discovered his potential. His journey pulled him closer to God, country, and the Corps, allowing him to believe in his ability to achieve anything he sets his mind to.

In November of 2016, Whitfield was attending high school and working at a local Wal-Mart when his mother initially suggested the military to him. At the time, he weighed 365 pounds and could not see himself as a service member. He said to his mother nonchalantly, “If I am going to join the military, I’ll need to receive a letter from God!” Surely enough, a few days later, he received a letter in the mail from U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Major Samuel Hayward. This letter explained to him that the Marine Corps could be his opportunity to enhance his mental and moral character, ultimately leading him to something much bigger than himself. He took this as a sign and decided to visit his local recruiting office.

To his dismay, he was turned away immediately. The recruiters couldn’t see Whitfield losing the weight, so they didn’t provide him with any knowledge or resources about the Marines. When he told others about his aspirations join the Corps, he was shut down. Whitfield recalls some people saying things like, “You can’t do it!” and “It is impossible!” Despite a lack of support, he set off to accomplish his dream without hesitation.
Whitfield did have those who believed in him. Among his support circle was his mother, father, sister, and his best friend, Kayla Davis, who would one day become his fianc. His mother helped with meal preparation and reminded him every day what he was striving for. Where he once found himself struggling during workouts, he soon realized how easy they came to him. When he found himself discouraged, he looked to his social supports and to God for the strength to continue.
“If I don’t do this, I won’t be able to be my best and serve others,” he would say, “When I didn’t see any changes in my body, it just motivated me to push even harder.”
The discouragement inspired him to run the extra miles, do more pushups, and eat healthier food. He turned the negative energy of his shortcomings into the physical rewards of his accomplishments.
In January of 2018, the young man who recruiters once turned away, had shed more than half his body weight from the year before. He weighed in at 160 pounds. Lean and motivated, Whitfield shipped out to boot camp January 2. His transformation continued when he graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on April 6 and proposed to his girlfriend.
Whitfield arrived to the motor pool aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico in October, bringing with him his legacy of strength, resilience, and inspiration.
“He just brings all the motivation he has to work,” said Cpl. Michael Lee, another motor transport operator in Quantico’s motor pool. “He is always asking for more responsibility whenever he can, and he continues to go out of his way to help others in need.”
Whitfield explained that he has faced many difficulties along the road to join the Marine Corps; he not only learned to overcome them, but to make them his strengths. He also emphasized the importance of physical and spiritual strength, which allowed him to succeed, and that without spiritual fitness, he would not be who he is today.
“If I can do it, you can do it. Don’t let your ego get in the way, and don’t let the hard days and mistakes stop you from getting what you deserve and becoming who you want to be.”

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