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Veteran Spotlight: Marine Lance Cpl. Gene Gavazzi

By Wayne SoaresSpecial to iBerkshires
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ADAMS, Mass. — Gene Gavazzi served his country in the Marine Corps and Marine Reserves from 1983 to 1989. 
 
Born in Adams, he graduated from Hoosac Valley High School then went the college route for a couple of years. When riding
home one day, he saw a Marine recruiting billboard – "Maybe, You Can Be One Of Us." 
 
It struck a chord with the 22-year-old and he was hooked. 
 
"I'll never forget when Staff Sgt. Edward Lodge showed up on my doorstep," Gavazzi said. "Wow, he was all spit and polish in his Marine uniform! Such an impressive sight. He said, 'I know you can be one of us.' He met my girlfriend Laurie at the time (later his wife) and he impressed upon me how much of a significant impact she could be on me. She was a tremendous impact on me."
 
"The letters she wrote me in boot camp were amazing she was definitely my inspiration," he proudly recalled.
 
He spoke about the difficulty of the corps' recruitment training. 
 
"It was the most intense, arduous, non-stop training I've ever been through," he said. "Marine boot camp is the toughest of all training. They will work you — punishing calisthenics — wear you right down. They build you to their image. 'WE WILL TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER BEFORE WE TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES, NO MARINE LEFT BEHIND.' 
 
"If we have to die in rescuing a Marine, so be it."
 
His first assignment was at Camp Geiger in North Carolina for Advanced Infantry School.
 
"I came out No. 1 in my class and was promoted to lance corporal. I was offered the chance to become an officer, but turned it down. I wanted to stay in the enlisted ranks," he said. "I came back home to the Reserves and had to go back to Camp LeJeune, where I served with the 8th Marines."
 
When asked about a mentor, Lance Corp. Gavazzi didn't hesitate: "Senior drill instructor Staff Sgt. John Abney. He would have us in a circle for formation and tell us about our progress and what we needed to improve on. We enveloped ourselves around him.
 
"Our two other drill instructors were hard and nasty — Staff Sgt. Abney told us how we improved and progressed."
 
Was he ever afraid? "You were always afraid of what could be ... being sent to a place where you had intolerable conditions and had to be in combat," he said.
 
Gavazzi shared this story: "We were marching to chow hall in formation. They kept telling us we were going to be recycled (having to go back to stage 1 and do everything over). This recruit simply couldn't take it, he broke ranks and ran in front of a car. He was so petrified of being recycled that he actually wanted to bring harm to himself. I never heard from him, hope he's alive and well and enjoying his life." 
 
His thoughts on being a Marine? "It greatly improved my self-esteem, my worth and discipline and made me a better person. I took my combat-ready skills and applied them to life. I'm still proud of that title," he said. 
 
Thoughts on serving his country? "Crystal clear: One of the greatest things I've ever done."
 
"Deep, personal gratitude and satisfaction of our country's freedom," Gavazzi said. "God first, then the Corps, then veterans. I love meeting veterans, especially Vietnam veterans. These men and women came home to nothing."
 
Lance Cpl. Gene Gavazzi, thank you for your service to our great country.
 
Wayne Soares is the host of the popular, new veterans cooking show, "The Mess Hall" and entertains our troops around the globe. He is also the host and producer of the Vietnam veterans documentary "Silent Dignity – The Chapter That Never Ends."

 

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