The nation celebrates the 245th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps on Tuesday, and for a local veteran currently serving in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, the anniversary holds special meaning.
William N. Dixon was recognized for selfless devotion to the country with a promotion to the rank of Gunnery Sgt. on Nov. 1, with formal ceremonies held on Saturday, Nov. 7.
Dixon, his wife Mary, and their two children Logan and Alexis reside in Hillsboro.
“They only get promoted when they’re at drill, and since he’s a reservist, he could only get it when they met for the month,” Mary said. “It was really great that they allowed the kids and me to come up and be a part of it.”
According to Mary, Dixon’s family has a history of military service: his great-grandfather served in the U.S. National Guard, and his father served in the U.S. Army. From childhood, Dixon planned to someday become a Marine.
Dixon joined the Marines in 2006 at the age of 22 and has served two tours of active duty deployment as military police — once during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008 and once during Operation Enduring Freedom, which took him to Afghanistan in 2011.
The couple got married on what Mary called “a random Wednesday” at the Highland County Courthouse on July 6, 2011. They were already engaged, but when his orders came in, “we had to do something quick before he left,” she said.
Her husbands’ duties and safety were always in the back of her mind, Mary said, and because she worked full-time at a local bank, she would sometimes miss a call from him while she was at work due to the nine-hour time difference.
Dixon was in Afghanistan for their first year of marriage, but Mary said emails and periodic phone calls helped ease the stress of being apart.
“Phone calls were scarce when he was in Afghanistan,” Mary said. “I would go weeks without talking to him because of where he was, and sometimes the emails were pretty scarce as well.”
When he’s not in battle dress uniform, Dixon trades the camouflage vehicles typical of the U.S. military for the orange trucks for the Highland County Engineer’s Office.
According to Mary, Dixon plans to stay with the corps for at least six more years, so he can satisfy the 20-year service obligation for retirement.
Mary offered some heartfelt words of advice for families, couples, or — as was the case in her situation — newlyweds when military service is a component of the relationship.
“Support and love them,” Mary said. “It’s all about supporting them. You don’t get to pick and choose where they’re stationed or when they get deployed or how long they’ll stay or any of that, but you support them on the homefront and do everything as if they were still here.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.