Editor's Note: In honor of Veteran's Day, Sgt. Justin Grones, an athletics communications assistant and member of the Wisconsin National Guard, profiled assistant athletic trainer Jon Jandrin, a United States Marine Corps veteran. On behalf of everyone with Green Bay Phoenix Athletics, thanks to Jon, Justin and all those who have served our country.
By Justin Grones (@GronesGB)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – For assistant athletic trainer Jon Jandrin of Prevea Health, serving Green Bay’s student-athletes is both an honor and a privilege, and something he looks forward to each day. But before serving the members of Green Bay’s 16 NCAA Division I programs, he served the entire United States—as a member of the United States Marine Corps.
A Green Bay native, Jandrin joined the Marines between his junior and senior year of high school through the delayed entry program, just weeks before 9/11 shook the nation. After graduating in June 2002, he headed off to basic training to begin a four-year career on active duty.
Following basic training, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina before spending a total of one year training in Pensacola, Fla., and Arizona to become a signals intelligence specialist, which taught him how to be a cryptologist and how to effectively copy Morse code. After completing his training, he was attached to a tactical signal intelligence battalion.
With that round of training complete, Jandrin became an even more well-rounded Marine when he was sent to Camp Pendleton in California to attend infantry school and learn the essentials of being a crewmember on an eight-wheeled LAV amphibious vehicle. With a wealth of new knowledge from his training, he became a member of a Mobile Electronic Warfare Support System (MEWSS) platoon upon his return to Camp Lejeune.
Jandrin deployed twice during his active duty career, first during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004—highlighted by his participation in the takedown of Fallujah. Following the takedown, he spent more than a month and a half on a small and remote combat outpost before returning to the U.S. for training to become a MEWSS team leader.
In fall 2005, he began his second deployment—this time as a team leader on a Marine Expeditionary Unit. Jandrin and his team crossed the Atlantic Ocean by ship and toured through the Mediterranean Sea before arriving in the Middle East, where they would spend two and a half months total in Iraq clearing routes and destroying weapons caches.
“At one point on that tour, we went 38 days without a real shower,” Jandrin said. “In a way, it was kind of fun—we would use bottled water and shampoo, and then just throw our socks and stuff away after a while.”
With two tours overseas complete, he finished his four-year career in the Marines in July 2006, and returned home to Northeastern Wisconsin. After six months out of the Marine Corps, he enrolled at UW-Oshkosh, where he struggled to transition from the military lifestyle he’d come to love.
“You just go from living such a structured lifestyle in the military and then end up with all this freedom—I didn’t know what to do with it all,” Jandrin said. “On top of that, the camaraderie you have with those you served with just can’t be replaced, and I definitely needed to fill that void.”
Midway through his sophomore year of college, he contemplated dropping out and returning to active duty. However, a friend convinced him to stay in school, and instead helped him toward a compromise—serving in the Marine Corps Reserve while still attending school. From there, Jandrin put the uniform he loved back on, and trained at the Marine Corps Reserve center in Green Bay. During his time there, he served in three impressive roles—as a squad leader, a platoon sergeant and a career counselor.
Following a few years as a reservist, he called it a career and began to focus on his new passion—athletic training. It might seem like an odd field for someone who had experience in military communications, intelligence and infantry skills, but as an athlete in high school and with the tough physical demands of the Marines, Jandrin had always been intrigued by the process of injury rehabilitation.
“Seeing other athletes in high school or fellow Marines work so hard to overcome injuries and return to 100 percent strength was always something that interested me, and I knew it would be a rewarding career to be able to help someone along the road to recovery,” Jandrin said.
Although he planned on serving as an athletic trainer at the high school level, he was ecstatic to receive the opportunity to work with a Division I college athletics program. He credits many of the things the Marine Corps taught him for making him a good fit in the industry—the ability to work extremely well under pressure, his high level of discipline and the professionalism the Marines are known for.
“Being here at Green Bay is awesome, and I tell myself that every day and can’t say it enough,” Jandrin said. “The facilities are amazing, the student-athletes are all amazing people and fun to work with and the overall atmosphere here is incredible.”
Although he admits the call to serve is still there at times, he’s extremely happy with where he is now, and looks forward to the challenges his new role will bring him the future. Without the Marines, he says, he doesn’t think he’d be anywhere near where he is now.
“If anyone asked me if I could go back and do it all over again, I’d say yes in a heartbeat,” Jandrin said. “Without serving in the Marine Corps, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I’ve had or be the person I am today.”
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