Military Service and Beyond: An Interview with USMC Sergeant Sean Luttrell

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Military Service and Beyond: An Interview with USMC Sergeant Sean Luttrell

[00:36] Introduction.
My name is Sean Latrell. I have been in the Marine Corps for six years going on seven, next January and I am a Sergeant.

[00:49] Where did you enlist and do you have any family members that have served?
I enlisted from Jacksonville, Florida and I went to MCRD Parris Island - the same recruiting depot as my grandfather, who was in the Marine Corps. And, my first duty station was Beaufort, just next door. He was an infantryman during World War II for, I want to say, three years and then, he [was] commissioned in the Navy as a psychiatrist. He died before I was born - I have a lot of his momentos like his collar tabs and his actual nameplate from his uniform. My mom was in the Navy five years in Hawaii before she got a contract with NASA. So, she left the service because NASA was paying the big bucks.

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[01:33] What inspired you to join the military?
I've always wanted to be in the military because of them. Growing up, I was in a naval ROTC outside of school - the Sea Cadets. That really just kind of drove it home that I was going to be in the military. I wasn't really sure what branch I was going to go. I was kind of pushing towards the Navy at the time, because that's what my mom did. But, the [Navy] recruiters, they weren't it. Then, the Marine Corps recruiter came in, during our recruiting day for Sea Cadets,  and he did the same old pitch: he's like, “You want to be a Marine?” He was like, “Ah, you can't do it.” And, that was what hooked me - hook,  line and sinker. I was like, “I'm gonna prove to you that I can.” And, I did.

[02:15] Do you have a favorite duty station? 
I definitely liked Beaufort. Purely just for the amenities aspect of just being used to having those American amenities. I do love traveling out here. Unfortunately, I travel by myself because my wife doesn't really like it here. She has pretty bad anxiety so we don't really travel often anywhere. If we do, it's only for a day. Anything over overnight - it's not really an option for us.

[02:49] When did you arrive in Japan?
I arrived  in Japan in June of 2021, and then, almost immediately after, my unit had left for a DET down in Okinawa.

[03:02] What is your current MOS? 
I'm a 6048 Flight Equipment Technician. I maintain pilot flight equipment: so, their helmets, flight suits, G suits, anything that they would use in case of an injection - [like] their survive items, life preservers, and stuff like. And, specifically for my unit, I'm a CDQAR: Collateral Duty Quality Assurance Representative. I mean,  my job's pretty they can be kind of boring we I mean we can be kind of monotonous but it's very important because if something were to go wrong with the pilot we were the last line of defense or even our slogan is the last to let you down so no matter what happens if the jet breaks and the pilot has to eject or crash or anything like that our gear has to work 100 of the time and so there can be a lot of stress within the community to make sure everything is done correctly the first time.

[04:01] Who would you consider to be a mentor?
Definitely. One Marine I definitely look up to, even while I during my time at Beaufort - I kind of followed out here - is Gunnery Sergeant Lopes. He's over at Quality Assurance at 121. He was a shop Mech and I just always looked at him as, lack of better term, like a father figure in the Marine Corps.  Someone I can go and talk to, and he'll shoot me straight if I'm up then he was like Hey you shouldn't be doing that or if it's like one of those things in the record is just not up to speed on in time in terms of like social justice and anything like that there's a lot of issues I had back in the mouth through those right  

[04:51] If we asked your junior Marines, what would they say is your catchphrase?
Definitely now is, “I hope you have a shit one.” [Laughter] I was watching a video on YouTube - there's some Australian guy and his intro is, “Hope you have a shit one,” and, I've just started saying that all the time and a lot of them just get a kick out of it.

[05:15] Do you have any hobbies outside of the military?
I do a lot of automotive and aerial photography and videography for my own YouTube and Instagram pages[...] This weekend I went up to Okiyama to see the Formula Drift Japan Session five. They're qualifying in their finals for their fifth session of drifting around the track. It was at the Okiyama International Circuit. I've never been there before but it was an amazing experience. I've been doing automotive photography, really, only for about a year now. But, I've done aerial photography since - several years ago with my dad - when he and I got into flying remote control planes back when I was in the Boy Scouts. Then, it wasn’t until about four or five years ago that I finally started strapping cameras onto them and recording the in-flight process of just regular styrofoam RC planes. Now, it's developed into four engine quadcopters chasing cars around drip tracks and even getting up like thousands of feet in the air to take pictures. The Castillo de San Marcos [National Monument] in St. Augustine, Florida is probably one of my favorite pictures - it's got Flagler College in the foreground and a beautiful sunset. It’s my favorite picture to date.

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[06:39] Tell us about the gear you use.
One of the two drones that I use, is the [DJI] Mavic 2 Pro. This one's mainly for stabilized flight or anything from taking time lapse photos of mountain tops, or if you really want to get anything high up and just keep it real nice and stable. It has this little three-axis gimbal which controls the carrier. I can control the camera for my controller thousands of feet, or even up to six miles, away on a good day. Then, I have my pride and joy which is my race squad. This is built for speed. It has a GoPro that records everything and I look through this from this camera [here] into my FPV [First Person View] goggles and anything that this camera sees is what I see. So, I'm chasing cars around drift tracks well over 60 miles per hour and I'm getting some really good footage of them just deep into some turns. This is definitely my favorite. I'm gonna do all sorts of tricks. You can go up and do barrel rolls, backflips, and just really have a good time running through small holes, or if I find an abandoned area and just let loose. This is definitely my favorite one. Eventually, I'm gonna build my own where I can have it do waypoint missions and carry larger cameras like the Black Magic that you have. But, that's way down the line. That's a multi-thousand dollar project.

[08:16] What’s on your gear wishlist?
That's a tough one - there's a big list. Definitely to date I want to get [Rhode] LAV [lavalier] mics or lab mics - I'm not sure how to say it. Mainly, just to get some more professional audio for whenever I do rolling car photo shoots, with people on base, or anywhere back in the states so I can record their audio for the video - from the engine bay and the exhaust. Then, add that in post so it matches up and gets a real cinematic shot.

[08:51] What are your career plans?
I'm currently planning on staying in the military for the 20 years. At the end of this contract I'll be at nine, so it makes the most sense to try and stay in and get get to the end. But, if the Marine Corps chooses that I can't stay in then I will be pursuing the photo and video route more more heavily. 

[09:22] Have you invested while in the military?
Fortunately, I got into GameStop and AMC right at the start of the hype and I was able to make a little bit of money on that. Unfortunately, my lack of knowledge in the stock market came back to bite me in the end. I had transferred away from Robin Hood - because everyone was talking about how bad it was - over to Weeble because you have a lot more options there. But, I didn't sell out of my stock prior to leaving so my accounts got blocked out, or locked out, when it was at its peak. Then, when it was transferred over into Weeble, because it had to sell and then re-buy it at that same price, I had lost out on a vast amount of money that I had made.

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