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Training and Education Command

United States Marine Corps
Hawaiian musician finds new music in Marine Corps

By Pfc. Katalynn Thomas | | July 23, 2010

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Pvt. David K. Holt, Platoon 2173, Co. H, graduates from recruit training today.

Pvt. David K. Holt, Platoon 2173, Co. H, graduates from recruit training today. (Photo by Pfc. Katalynn Thomas)

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MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO -- Pvt. David Keawenuiaumi Tsutomu Holt, Platoon 2173, Co. H, has achieved his ambition to be the first person in his family to join the armed forces. He took a long road getting here.

Holt was a professional dancer, a musician and a flight attendant before he enlisted.

He is leaving the depot with a few more tricks to add to his bag.

Holt has survived his drill instructors, martial arts and grueling physical training. He has also made it through inspections, confidence and obstacle courses and qualifying with a rifle. He has completed physical fitness and combat fitness tests, the rappel tower and hikes. He has faced the confidence chamber and boot camp’s culminating test: the Crucible. He did all of this to get to his next step: to be an infantryman in the Marine Corps.

“I always wanted to join the Marine Corps,” said Holt. “It was just never the right time, until now. I like the ‘First to Fight’ mentality, and everything that the Marine Corps stands for, I stand for as well.”

Because no one in his family has joined the armed forces willingly, Holt had to fight to convince his family to let him join. They didn’t understand why he wanted to join, he said, because his grandfather was drafted.

“I’ve always been the oddball,” said Holt. “I like to make my own path. Part of my personality is to try things that no one around me has tried to do.”

While weighing his decision to become a Marine, Holt was dancing to his own tune  in Kalihi, an island of Oahu, Hawaii, where he was born and raised.

While growing up, Holt decided to help his family by earning money as a Polynesian dancer. He started dancing professionally when he was 12. Of course he didn’t just decide one day that he was going to be a dancer, it was in his roots.

Holt was brought up in a family of entertainers. His mother was a dance instructor and a hula dancer her whole life and his father and brother are professional musicians, said Holt.

Because of limited jobs, Holt and his family had to move around a lot when he was younger, he said. They wound up in Vancouver, Wash., where they lived for 11 years. While there, their lives started to get better, he said.

In June 2008, Holt landed a job as a flight attendant with Hawaiian Airlines.

“I didn’t think I would get the job,” said Holt. “I just thought ‘oh that would be cool.’ The next day they e-mailed me back telling me I got the job.”

Along with being a Polynesian dancer and a flight attendant, Holt and his brother performed music together.

Holt started performing with his brother, Kaloku Holt, at age 15. For the past 8 years, they traveled frequently to Japan, the Philippines and all over the United States and have released two CD’s of contemporary and traditional Hawaiian music.

“A lot of kids had Hot Wheels and toys to play with,” said Holt. “We had guitars and ukuleles. It became a passion over the years. We started playing at restaurants and knew a total of ten songs, but now we can play different songs for a whole month straight.”

Their songs are mainly on (The Brothers Kaloku and Keawe), and their CD’s are released in Hawaii and in the northwestern United States, he said. They are in the process of getting their CD’s into stores.

Holt believes he will be just as successful in the Marines as he is playing music.

“I believe I will be a good Marine and a good leader,” said Holt. “To be a good leader you have to be a good student.”

He admits to have made plenty of mistakes, but learns from them. Holt said that everything he learned in boot camp will surely carry over to the fleet.

Holt has already shown his abilities as a good leader during his stay here on the depot. From the first day the senior drill instructors picked their guides, Holt has been the guide for Platoon 2173 according to Holt’s senior drill instructor Sgt. Edward Gonzalez. Whenever he came close to being fired, he rose to the challenge to keep his place as the guide, he said.

“Holt is an outstanding leader,” said Gonzalez. “He leads by example and makes sure the recruits in his charge are well taken care of."

“I have to give the drill instructors credit,” Holt said. “How do they balance it?”

The drill instructors taught him to be a basically trained Marine, leadership principles, how to apply and enforce leadership and to delegate responsibilities.

“Senior Drill Instructor Sgt. Gonzalez was a great role model,” Holt said. “You can tell how much his peers respect him and how he carries himself. He has good character, someone that I want to be like. He is what he preaches."

While he takes some characteristics from his senior, Holt is also making his own career decisions.

He plans on getting a degree in music and a minor in business, in order to open doors to pursue other things he wants to accomplish. While he is sure of his education choices, he is not too sure if he will make the Marine Corps his career.

Holt said that he has just applied what they taught him and became a better person, a more serious person. He said it’s hard for him to joke around now, when he used to be a joker. Being the platoon’s guide for so long didn’t give him much time to relax, he said, but he is more motivated to tackle life head-on.

Holt believes that he hasn’t changed much since when he arrived here on the depot, but that is for his family to decide.

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