Depot Marine awarded for community involvement
By Lance Cpl. Darhonda V. Hall
| | May 27, 2005
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
The Exchange Club of Charleston recognized Sgt. Nicholas Underwood as their 2005 active duty Marine of the Year for spectacular volunteer efforts beyond his required duties.
Underwood has not only dedicated seven years of service to the Marine Corps, but also has dedicated his time to the local communities of his duty stations.
After growing up in the small town of Brevare, N.C., with six other siblings, Underwood always knew what it felt like to not have everything he wanted or needed.
"I shared a lot of things with my brothers and sisters," he said, "times were just that hard."
In addition to not having a lot of things for himself, Underwood said he did not have anyone to look up to.
"Some children were lucky to have a strong figure in their life," he said, "I really did not have that figure in my life."
Underwood told himself he would never want a child to experience not having a positive role model, so he would do what ever it took to make sure that did not happen. He took matters into his own hands and devoted time to local children and events wherever he happened to be stationed.
"I saw that a lot of young civilian and Marine Corps children did not have positive male role models in their lives," Underwood said.
Underwood volunteered as often as he could and his main desire became to help fulfill the dreams of the youth.
"I wanted to show the children that they can accomplish anything they put their mind to, and that they can go and beat all odds," he said.
Since joining the Marine Corps, Underwood said he has dedicated more than 10,000 hours to volunteering with local Special Olympics, Toys for Tots and other organizations.
"I like to touch people's lives," Underwood said. "My favorite thing about volunteering is seeing the kids' eyes light up when they smile and watching them succeed."
His unselfish acts have earned him a special place within the local communities.
After being awarded the Exchange Club of Charleston's Marine of the Year, local community leader Ronald Buske, director of Titan Corporation, said the award is a civic organizational award that shows it's not only star performers in the job fields that get awarded for their hard work, but being active in the community services does too.
"Personally, [the award] should mean a lot," said Buske. "The citizens of the local community are recognizing our military personnel for their unselfishness.
"[These service members] are well-rounded service personnel. We know that when we have people like that offering their services to the community, we are in good hands. They are out there doing their job very well."
Underwood was one of 10 service members to be awarded the award.
Since his enlistment in 1998, Underwood has strived to do what others said he could not do.
"A lot of people said I would not make it past recruit training," Underwood remembered. "Just being able to do what others say I cannot do has been a major accomplishment for me."
Underwood says his main goal in life is to touch at least one child's life and make sure that child can see that there are positive people in the world.
"I volunteer because I want to, not because I am told to," he said.
Underwood, whose mother has been dealing with a disease that attacks the nervous system for the past few years, said he is also giving away his time to those who could use it and to also inform on dealing with life's struggles.
"I let people know about the struggle of my family," Underwood said. "It goes to show that during hard times, you don't just give up."
Underwood, who also holds the billet of the Depot color sergeant, which he also volunteered for, has given his time and effort to the community, and continued to perform at a top-notch level while at work.