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Andy Larson thought it over, then joined the Marines

Andy Larson USMC

Andy Larson has seen a bit of the world since leaving the class of 2008 at Hudson High School.

After graduation, he took a little time off to contemplate his future and do some snowboarding in Colorado. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2010.

He was home on leave last week after spending seven months at sea with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and talked about his transformation from snowboarder to Leatherneck in a telephone conversation.

"I always wanted to be in the military, but my parents didn't want it," he said. "After thinking things over in Colorado, I still wanted to be a Marine."

"My grandfather, Fred Nagel, was in the Navy (1943-46) during World War II," Larson said.

Larsen, 22, started out at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif., for boot camp. He continued with advanced training in San Diego and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines as an infantry motorman.

Last November, he was deployed with the 11th MEU for a seven-month cruise in the Western Pacific, Middle East and the Horn of Africa, according a news release from the 11th MEU Public Affairs office.

The news release said the 11th MEU participated in 14 exercises with regional host nations in both U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command and served as a reserve force for supporting contingency operations.

"We got into some hot spots," Larson said, "some pirate mission off Somalia (Africa). We were in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea."

The MEU Public Affairs office said the Marines and sailors participated in 80 live-fire exercises in which they fired more than 600,000 rounds.

"We also did some humanitarian missions to Somalia and India," he said, not venturing to be specific about any of the missions.

"At one point, we were participating in three different large-scale exercises in the Western Pacific while simultaneously planning three more," said Col. Michael R. Hudson, commanding officer of the 11th MEU.

The unit included the Navy's newest amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52), USS New Orleans (LPD-18) and some 2,200 Marines and sailors.

"The performance of our Marines and sailors was outstanding during the preparation phase and while deployed," said Hudson.

Larson and fellow members of the 11th MEU returned to homeport at Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 22.

He said the Marine Corps experience has helped him put his priorities in order. He's happy with the choice and it has been a maturing process.

"We have a saying; 'years in the infantry are like dog years...everything is times seven'," Larson said.

Larson said he will have one more overseas tour before he finishes his active duty obligation, then he wants to attend civilian flight school and become a pilot.