Living Memorial For William Potter

Submitter’s Name: Tyykila Crystal
The Service Member’s Name: William Potter
Branch of Service: Marine Corps
Military Job: Telephone Systems and Computer Repairman
Hometown for Service Member: Corsicana, Texas
Hometown for Submitter: n/a 

Submitted by Navarro College Student Tyykila

“Stand Tall, Lean Back”

If you are native to Texas, you will have heard the saying a hundred and one times about how “Everything is bigger in Texas.”  It is a statement that you will find yourself repeating after you hear the comical commercials for Dairy Queen or even just walking through beautiful Dallas or Austin, Texas.  Yet we often forget what Texas is also most known for, and that is the big hearts of the citizens who reside here.  The biggest of those hearts belong to the men and women who decided to pursue the military life instead of living as a civilian.  These men and women put their time and dedication to fight for our freedom, meaning their hearts are the biggest and strongest hearts of them all.

Taking a couple of steps backward, on June 25, many years ago, a boy of the name William Potter was born.  Growing up to become a young man, he talked about many fond memories such as “Hanging out with my grandfather,” says Potter.  “My grandfather had a ranch out in the country.  At the ranch there was a barn and I remember going out to the barn with him and he would tell me stories about his past and we would work on something for Boy Scouts and I would listen to him talk about what it means to be a man and what it is like.”  His grandfather was a Merchant Marine in World War II, which helped Potter become interested in joining the military.  These memories would later be an important part of his reasoning for joining the United States Marine Corps.  Potter also has a brother that he is close to who was a part of the military as well.

After graduating high school in June of 2012, he started his hard work and dedication to become a protector of freedom by boosting his self-confidence and losing 130 pounds of weight.  This journey was important to him because before he started he felt weak and almost as if, he was a “nobody.”  After losing this weight and joining the Marines, he proceeded to graduate from boot camp, and he felt like he was someone he could look up to now.  Potter states, “It took me out of my comfort zone, it was the biggest challenge in my life, and it was something where I wanted to prove to myself about how much I have changed and put towards something, which is the Marine Corps boot camp.”  He also states that he liked boot camp because, “there are a lot of physical things about boot camp like in Phase one you do PFTS, you do little obstacle courses and it’s like a circuit course.  It is very physical in nature, whether it be running or climbing a rope, and being screamed at, while being challenged.  The best part that I can reflect on towards myself is that I could overcome that, and I think that’s something that’s very important to me.” 

After graduating in 2012, he began serving on January 11, 2015, and it was a long and difficult process to lose weight, join and graduate boot camp and then get strong enough to get to the first-class level.  “It took a lot of dedication and a lot of hardship, but it payed off in the end and it was worth it,” says Potter.  He said that it wasn’t difficult to stay fit because every day of boot camp was an active day, whether it be hiking, or running 4-5 times a day.  Potter says, “It is easy to stay fit when you’re in boot camp,” and explained that sometimes when work gets slow you will see people doing pushups or sit-ups, just waiting until it is time to work on something else.

After boot camp, Mr. Potter was meritoriously promoted from Private to Private First Class (PFC) and was assigned to a base in California.  He says that he spent most of his time in the California deserts, and that he did not consider it fun, but more of a learning experience.  Serving in the Marine Corps has given Potter a lot to reflect on and learn from as he feels it “not only teaches him (and any other’s that decide to join) how to be a better person and a better warrior”.  His duty in the Marines was Telephone Systems and Computer Repairman.  If something went wrong with the electronics, Potter was the man to call.  He enjoyed his job and made a career out of it by now working as an IT tech here in Texas. 

William Potter stopped serving on May 23 in 2016 but he still carries with him the many memories, lessons and values that he learned being a part of the United States Marine Corps.  During my time speaking with him, he talked about some very important things that he took with him after his Marine experience.

Potter often remembers the Corps values that every Marine lives by, “Justice Judgement Decisiveness Integrity Dependability Tact Initiative Endurance Bearing Unselfishness Courage Knowledge Loyalty and Enthusiasm.”  He says that, “In your day to day you personify each one to better yourself, and it sets you above what a normal civilian would be like.  With the normal mindset of being a Marine in your day to day, you must be clean shaven, sharp looking, have to grasp your knowledge about the Marine Corps and its history.”  I asked Potter if he enjoyed being a Marine and if it met his expectations and he replied, “It’s everything I thought it would be.  It was intense, it was hard, and it was a challenge.  There were a few let downs and I honestly would not want to have to go through it again.”

I believe that says a lot about Potter because not a lot of people have the strength to fight for our freedom, and yet he did what needed to be done.  That is the definition of strong and courageous and I think that is exactly what Potter wanted to be.  I also made sure to ask Potter if he had any warnings for younger generations or anyone for that matter and he said he did not have a specific warning.  Although he did not have a specific warning, he did have some advice to give.  Potter said, “Be professional always because you don’t know who’s watching or observing and you don’t know if your next boss could be next to you.  Always be prim, proper and crisp with what you do.  If you want something go and get it and don’t procrastinate.”

Mr. Potter and I also discussed that he feels this is very important because he remembers being in high school, and the students acting very disrespectful to their teachers and administrators.  He said that it was very immature of the students to act that way and it bothered him.  He added in that during his time in the Marine Corps you learn, very quickly, that you are no better than anyone else.  Everyone around you is your equal and he feels that the Marine Corps could be considered the “Great Equalizer.”  Potter also added, “The man/woman to your left is a Marine, and the woman/man to your right is a Marine.”  It is beat into your head.  If I get wounded the person to my left and right will look out for me, and I will do the same for them.  You will watch out for them because they will do the same for you.”  He noted that this was one of his favorite parts about the Marines because no one seemed to act better than anyone else did, and it made for a smoother process while he was becoming used to his surroundings.  It also helped him have a sense of trust, knowing that if something were to happen to him or anyone else, they depended equally on one another.

Near the conclusion of our discussion, he added in a few more statements that he felt were very important and that he wanted to be written.  He said as a reminder, “If I meet another Marine, it doesn’t matter if they’re thirty years older than me or five years younger; they are my brother because they said they are going to sacrifice everything and that they must do what’s right.  And that brings us together more than anything ever could.”  He added, “When you hear people say ‘embrace the suck,’ you do it for your country, to do something to not only better protect your family and home, but to protect the generations of the future.”

In the conclusion of our conversation, he thanked me and let me know he appreciated me taking my time to interview him.  I feel that I have learned a lot from this conversation, and a lot of it is very eye opening.  Being in the military, even the Marine Corps is not for the faint of heart.  You must be strong willed, physically strong, and determined.  William Potter took his time to ensure that we could continue being free and have our rights while he busted his butt.  There is a lot to be grateful and thankful for in that sense.  To William, I tell you “thank you” again.  It means a lot to have someone put his or her life on the line so I can continue living happily and freely in our beautiful state of Texas.  I cannot tell you how thankful I am for your service.  Everything is bigger in Texas, especially the hearts of our military personnel.