MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
For those of us who are born and raised in the United States, it’s easy to take the privileges and opportunities that we enjoy in our country for granted, but for Sgt. Ekhart Kohkemper, S-3 training non-commissioned officer with Marine Special Operations Support Group, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, coming to America in 1994 and experiencing the opportunities that this country holds was a life-changing experience that he is thankful for.
Kohkemper was born in 1980 in San Jose, Costa Rica. Even in Kohkemper’s early years, moving from country to country was business as usual.
“My father was a financial specialist with Inter-America Development Bank and his job required him to move around a lot,” said Kohkemper. “I lived in Costa Rica until 1984. We then moved to Venezuela and stayed there until 1989 before moving to Mexico where we made our home until 1992. We left Mexico in ’92 and moved to Uruguay, where we stayed until 1994,” In 1994, the Kohkemper family moved from Uruguay to the U.S. to seek greater opportunities.
“My parents wanted a better life for us,” said Kohkemper. “They wanted us to grow up in a place that offered more opportunity, so they decided to move us to the U.S. My father already had family here, so that made the decision to move here easier.”
After graduating from high school and attending a year of college at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Kohkemper decided to join the Marines.
“I wanted to do something different with my life, not to mention travel some more, so it seemed like the Marine Corps was the perfect career choice for me,” said Kohkemper.
Through hard work and commitment in the Marine Corps, Kohkemper developed himself, not only into a phenomenal leader, but also a teacher, according to his superiors.
“Kohkemper is currently the only (Marine Combat Instructor of Water Survival) we have in the support group,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Robert Couillard, MSOSG Operations Chief. “He’s helped five different units get qualified in combat water survival, subsequently training over 200 Marines. He is a decisive individual that is not afraid to lead from the front.”
Kohkemper’s desire to help others fuels his passion for the billet he holds in the Marine Corps.
“The reason why I love my job in the Marines is because it allows me the opportunity to help other Marines excel in their careers,” said Kohkemper. “Being the S-3 training NCO, it’s fulfilling and gratifying for me to help everyone stay on top of their training requirements, thus moving them closer to promotion and personal career goals.”
On March 4, 2008, Kohkemper achieved his personal goal of becoming a U.S. citizen.
“Gaining U.S. citizenship has been like a weight lifted off of my shoulders,” said Kohkemper. “My citizenship will open more doors for me within MARSOC and the Marine Corps as a whole.
According to Kohkemper, being a U.S. citizen is a great privilege, and being a U.S. Marine is one of the highest honors that he has attained in his life so far.
“I appreciate the opportunities and lifestyle that this country offers,” explains Kohkemper. “Not only am I glad that I’m a citizen now, I’m also thankful for the chance to serve this nation as a Marine.”