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Training and Education Command

United States Marine Corps
Change of heart leads rugby star to Marines

By Lance Cpl. Katalynn Thomas | | August 19, 2010

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Lance Cpl. Cody Andrew Katz, Platoon 2155, Company G, directs his squad leaders on where to stage the water and Meals, Ready-to-Eat, that they would need for the Crucible. Their gear was staged behind the Shepard's Field Parade Deck here, Aug 8.

Lance Cpl. Cody Andrew Katz, Platoon 2155, Company G, directs his squad leaders on where to stage the water and Meals, Ready-to-Eat, that they would need for the Crucible. Their gear was staged behind the Shepard's Field Parade Deck here, Aug 8. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Katalynn Thomas)

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MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO -- He is an outstanding student and excellent rugby player and he already had a full-ride scholarship to the college of his choice through rugby and the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.

He has an ambition that was channeled into his carefully planned destiny inspired by his grandfather, Lt. Col. Gerald M. Katz, a pilot in the Air Force. He wanted to be just like him, until he realized in his mind that he wanted to become a Marine.

Lance Cpl. Cody Andrew Katz, Platoon 2155, Company G, spent most of his adolescence preparing himself physically for his dream. Simultaneously, Katz was preparing himself mentally in school, he said.

He was an avid learner and a good student who strived to be at the top. All the hard work paid off because he was at the top five percent of his class, he said.

While Katz cared about his education, he was also into sports, he said. Katz was deeply involved in the district high school rugby team by his senior year.

“I had only played one season, but my coach had already noticed potential in me,” said Katz.

His coach pulled him aside and asked him what his plans were for college, so Katz told him about his dream of becoming an Air Force pilot because he needed a college degree. But didn't know which college to apply to, he said.

Fortunate for Katz, his coach was close to the rugby coach at the University of California, Los Angeles. Katz' coach set up a meeting between him and the UCLA coach, he said.

When Katz met the UCLA coach, he was asked if he had any interests other than rugby. So he told the coach about his interest in the Air Force.

“The coach mentioned the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps,” said Katz. “So I took the advice and applied.”

After several months, Katz was accepted to UCLA with a full ride AFROTC/ rugby scholarship with a major in physics.

After high school graduation, he was on top of the world said Katz. He loved telling people that he was going to one of the best schools in the world for free.

“During my first quarter, I began to notice the Marine Corps commercials more and more,” said Katz. “At first, I paid no attention to them, but the more I watched, the harder it was to turn away.”

Although the Corps was nagging in the back of his mind he still wanted to fulfill his dream of being in the Air Force, he said.

“I didn't want to satisfy my desire to get a closer look at the Corps,” said Katz. “I was dead set on my goal, nothing was going to stop me, plus I had school to worry about."

Regardless of how determined he was Katz still had the Corps in his thoughts, he said.

With the Marines in the back of his mind during his first quarter of college, he made a trip to the Marine recruiter's office, just to get some information and then be on his way, Katz said.

“Two weeks into my next quarter, the sight of the Marine dress blue alphas that were hanging in the recruiter's office became steadily clearer and clearer in my mind’s eye,” said Katz.

The uniform not only helped him decide he wanted to become a Marine, but stayed in his mind through trials to come.

Katz was associating with a bad crowd and made some wrong decisions in early, 2009.

“I was scared to death that I was going to lose my scholarships and be dropped from UCLA,” said Katz. He notified his commander about what had happened, and his commander told Katz that he was safe and wasn't going to lose either scholarship, he said.

About a week after her returned to school he couldn't help but return to the recruiter, he said.

“My eyes instantly clicked to the uniform and I had finally had enough of just imagining them,” Katz said. “I went to my commander and told him that I wanted to cancel the scholarship and withdraw from the school.”

Katz knew that he needed the discipline to never make another bad decision again, he said.

“The Air Force wouldn't be able to give me enough discipline,” Katz said. “But the Marine Corps definitely would.”

It took a little longer than a year for Katz to get everything cleared with the Air Force and UCLA, but when he did he was at the military entrance processing station the next day taking his armed service vocational aptitude battery exam.

It took several days to fill out the paperwork to withdraw from the school, but it took several months to have the Department of Defense approve the forms and process Katz into the Corps, he said.

One week later, Feb. 16, Katz enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He arrived on the depot, May 24.

“The uniform in the office is one of the things that really pushed me through the hard parts of boot camp,” said Katz. “I wanted to be one of the eight to graduate in my full dress blue uniform because I was guide.” The fact that the Marine Corps only wears their Dress Blues for special occasions shows the professionalism of the Marines, he said.

Katz will be graduating in his dress blue bravo uniform because he was the guide for Platoon 2155 the entire time he was at boot camp, according to Staff Sgt. Johnathan Conwill, senior drill instructor, Company G, Platoon 2155.

 “He demonstrated pretty good leadership,” said Conwill. “Katz was the platoon guide from day one. Being a team captain for rugby, he had an idea of what it meant to lead a team. Recruit training is about teamwork so it was natural to him.”

“He demonstrates good moral courage and the ability to lead by example,” said Conwill. “He shows a strong level of maturity for his age. The other recruits follow him because they notice the maturity.”

Katz can't wait to show the Marine Corps what he has learned from his drill instructors, said Katz.

“I want to make my senior drill instructor proud,” said Katz.

Lance Cpl. Katz doesn't need to worry, his senior will be watching for him.

“I look forward to seeing him succeed in his Marine Corps career,” said Conwill.

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