Respect Camp: Jon Turner

March 29, 2024

Respect Camp: Jon Turner

Jon Turner’s story unravels against the backdrop of family legacies intertwined with military service, stretching back to the Revolutionary War. A childhood marked by solitary explorations in wooded areas at age 6. As we peel back the layers of Jon's narrative, we uncover the essence of his character, shaped by his military service and a profound connection to nature. His journey becomes a testament to the interplay between personal growth, family, and a commitment to a life guided by discipline and love. From the challenges of serving in Haiti and Iraq to the transformative power of self-reflection; we will navigate chapters of Jon’s life, exploring pivotal moments that shaped his identity.

“My earliest memory is of being in the garden, sitting beside my grandmother and tomatoes at 2 1/2 years of age. I recall the aroma of the vines, the fencing beside them, and the grassy area at the edge of the property that overlooked a small backyard garden. Three decades later, it was shared with me the extent to which my family had served this country, with multiple relatives in all major conflicts back to the Revolutionary War, most of whom were farmers and homesteaders with close relations to the land and their food.

Growing older it was clear that being outside and engaged with military culture were two of the greatest influences in my life. My family would often let me wander the wooded area alone at age 6, exploring the environment from multiple lenses - one being that of wonder towards the diverse ecosystem while trying to understand how everything worked, and the other from this pseudo-tactical/ survival perspective, sneaking around and blending into the environment with the intent of becoming a commando, a survivalist, someone who could sustain themselves with what was provided. Fieldcraft has been a part of my life for the entirety of my existence.

I had originally planned to become a green beret based on the movies and books I enjoyed as a kid but in 2000, while visiting Parris Island for my brother's graduation, I was enamored by the discipline, the grit, the rawness of boot camp and it then became my goal of becoming a Marine and joining the infantry to fulfill my intent as a kid patrolling the forest behind my apartment, able to operate and survive in the landscape.

In February of 2004, after graduating from boot camp and School of Infantry East, I was placed in my unit as a basic infantryman with 3rd Bn 8th Marines, and within three weeks, we were called up as a Quick Reaction Force and deployed to Haiti for four months to stabilize Port au Prince from an uprising in gang activity rooted in a coup to overthrow President Aristide.

The harshness of poverty and living conditions was seared into my memories and to this day, 19 years later, I am still impacted by what we saw, how we lived, and the unfortunate truth of humanity's crisis of suffering without basic needs being met and with sickness and malnourishment rampant throughout.

Returning home in June 2004, we began our workup and deployed to Karma, Iraq replacing our sister unit who took our slot when we were called up for Haiti. Our 2005 deployment consisted mainly of presence patrols, snatch & grabs, and defense against indirect fire. The deployment was considered calm by many in my company as we did not get into several firefights and had only sustained 11 KIA.  The calmness was short-lived while deployed to Ramadi in 2006, the itch we as infantrymen get, was certainly scratched.

We returned from Ramadi with 18 KIA, over 200 wounded and since then, have had 25 men from our unit end their own lives. Several times I was close to becoming a statistic after returning home, but there has always been an unseen force that has driven me forward to confront the memories, the emotions, and the hardship, to not give in to fear and doubt and lack of self-worth from sadness and grief.

My injuries, both physical and psychological, have become catalysts to being a better human and a better man for my sons and wife, my family, and my community. If I give in, I miss out and so do they. This is why I am still here.

Looking at this introspectively, my biggest obstacle has been self-judgment and the fear of being judged. This inevitably leads to not believing in myself and what greatness I am capable of achieving in this life. Working through physical injuries is also a difficult one. However, I remind myself that this is exactly what they are… mere obstacles; meant to be overcome with determination and grit.

I don't believe in self-pity but believe it is ok to sulk at times. It is necessary because the emotion is revealing a moment that needs healing. The downside is the comfort that can be found in these moments, the familiarity that is all too inviting. At times I have stayed in this area too long and became comfortable with solitude by running from that which I love, while at other times, have stayed the appropriate amount of time to glean what was needed to teach me the lesson, and released attachment to the emotion after embracing what it was.

My goals for the next 3 years are first and foremost to spend quality time with my family both on and off the farm, expand my wilderness living/ survival school, focus on increasing my health & strength, earn my blue belt, break a world record and continue competing in 2-gun competitions, adventure races, and ultra events.

I have had several great influences and people whom I respect in my life which include my wife and kids, family, friends, and even people that I've never met. But I have come to learn the importance of respecting myself because if I do not, I am less able to protect, provide, and serve those whom I love. If I do not respect myself I will fail at life.

I must maintain discipline in health and vitality, meditation and fitness, spirituality and cleanliness, and most importantly love for my family and love for myself.” - Jon Turner

In visiting Jon Turner's remarkable journey, we find an intricate tapestry woven with resilience, sacrifice, and a deep connection to nature. The essence of this exploration resonates in the harmonious blend of Jon's love for the outdoors and the indomitable spirit cultivated through military service. The central theme to Jon’s journey remains steadfast – unfolding as a testament to purpose, discipline, and a commitment to family and personal growth.

From the childhood wonder of a garden to the duality of exploration of the great outdoors, Jon's experiences reveal a man shaped by a profound connection to the land and the crucible of military service. The harsh realities of Haiti and Iraq became pivotal chapters, each leaving an indelible mark on his character.

In contemplating Jon's narrative, we are prompted to reflect on the resilience within ourselves. The call to action lies in embracing challenges with a spirit akin to Jon's, finding purpose, and fostering a commitment to personal growth and the well-being of those we hold dear.

Returning to the garden where young Jon sat beside his grandmother, we see the life-defining seeds of observation, consideration, and inquiry sown at that moment blossoming into a life lived with purpose and dedication. We are reminded that the most profound stories are those where resilience transforms pain into purpose.

The echoes of Jon's narrative reverberate into the future, prompting us to ponder the implications of our journeys. What resilience can we cultivate, and what purpose can we discover? The tale of Jon Turner leaves us with questions that invite ongoing reflection, inspiring us to chart our course with purpose and resilience.

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