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Fighting for Freedom
From a young age, 1st Sgt. Gilbert G. Oshana knew he wanted to serve his country. He wanted to give back to the nation that had given him so much and had blessed his family. Oshana’s love for the United States and desire to serve led him to enlist in the Marine Corps, and his love for his country has continued to grow throughout his years of service.
Oshana’s parents applied for a visa to come to America and left the life they knew in Iran in search of the American Dream in White Plains, New York.
“My parents came to this country for the opportunities and religious freedom that were not available in Iran,” said Oshana.
His parents belief in the opportunities provided by the United States and the advantages it could provide their family remains with Oshana to this day.
“I fundamentally believe in this country and everything it has blessed me with, which is why I decided to join the Marine Corps,” said Oshana.
Oshana recalled being a corporal stationed in Okinawa, Japan and being woken up in the middle of the night to phone calls about the towers being attacked on September 11 2001.
“Due to this tragedy, we deployed to Afghanistan in support of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and I knew my time in the Marine Corps had only begun,” said Oshana.
Oshana wanted to continue serving in the Marine Corps and keep contributing to the fight, so in 2004 he set out to be a drill instructor. Now responsible for shaping future Marines that would go on to face the same challenges he did, their desire to serve moved him.
“The recruits going through the depot at the time I was there enlisted because of the events that took place on 9/11,” noted the New York native. “All these recruits decided to enlist during a time of war, and not surprisingly, they all had infantry military occupational specialties. I found that very admirable.”
Oshana remembers checking the names of Marines killed in action – and seeing some of his former recruits.
“Seeing those names was something that pushed me to give 110% and continue the legacy of those heroes,” said Oshana.
After his tour being a drill instructor Oshana returned to Iraq in 2008 on a brigade-level team to advise the Iraqi army.
“After the liberation of Iraq I saw a shift in the way people carried themselves, but I knew it would take a while for people there to grasp what freedom feels like and how to live in it because it would be a cultural change,” said Oshana.
It wasn’t a question whether he was reenlisting or not.
“Going to battle against terrorism in a part of the world close to an area once considered home by my family made me feel responsible to do something to help – to be part of the solution and provide the opportunities I had,” he said.
As Oshana progressed in his career, he decided he wanted to be an infantry first sergeant. He wanted to have a company of Marines he could influence and have an impact on.
“I was exposed to great leadership. Those warriors raised me – that’s why I’m here,” said Oshana. “I want to inject that warrior spirit into my Marines and teach them to be good leaders.” After 20 years of service, Oshana is nowhere near close to leaving the Corps.
“I feel like I still have a lot to give back to this country and I’m ready to jump on the next deployment even though I’m still not done with this one,” he laughed.