The first night in Marine boot camp he decided that he made the right decision, and that this was what he was going to do with his life
At 41 years old, Ray Post of Toledo has climbed to the top of his military career as a Marine.
CWO Post of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing was recently promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 5 - the highest level of chief warrant officers and most difficult to attain, he said.
"I am at the peak of my professional mountain," he wrote in an e-mail. "My next change in status will be to civilian life."
He is stationed at the Al Asad Air Base in the rough and tough Al Anbar province in Iraq, more than 100 miles west of Baghdad, and is one of the more than 20,000 Marines in the country. This is Chief Warrant Officer Post's third tour of duty, and he is expected to return home in early August.
The Toledo native is one of only seven nuclear, biological, and chemical defense officers selected to be a Chief Warrant Officer 5, and his primary job is to keep track of any ground-related activity and brief those in the air on the situation. He also does administrative work, such as writing fitness reports and awards for fellow Marines, he said.
"I know my piece is very minor in the big picture, but we in the Aircraft Wing do great things to support the young guys and gals on the ground," he said. "I am just happy to do what I can to contribute to the war effort."
After graduating from Whitmer High School in 1983, Chief Warrant Officer Post planned to study political science in college and then eventually go on to law school.
But his plans changed.
"He decided to forget college and run off to the Marine Corps," said his brother, Scott Post who communicates with him weekly through e-mail.
"He's happy with what he does," Scott Post said.
Chief Warrant Officer Post said Toledo is a great place to grow up, but "there's not a lot there for a kid who wants adventure and to see the world."
"The first night of boot camp I decided this is what I was going to do with my life, and I haven't regretted it for a minute," he said.
During his 23 years of service, Chief Warrant Officer Post has served as a Presidential Guard during the Reagan administration, was a squad leader during Operation Desert Storm, and was deployed to Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope.
He said the real honor, though, was getting to lead Marines.
"There is no way to explain what an honor and privilege it is to serve with the best and brightest young people our country has ever produced, especially over here," he said.
His stepfather, Bill Curavo of Walbridge, said his mother, who died two years ago, would have been elated to hear about his promotion.
"I know his mother would be proud of him," Mr. Curavo said.
After Chief Warrant Officer Post returns in August, he will go to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for a few months and plans to return to Iraq sometime in February.
"I don't show up to work for the paycheck," he said. "If you wouldn't do what you are doing for free, you have missed your calling."
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