MUSA QAL’AH DISTRICT CENTER, Afghanistan -- For Cpl. Aaron Clote, the challenge involved with becoming a Marine and the chance to experience the world was something he couldn’t miss out on.
Clote, now a sniper and serving as the radio operator with the scout sniper team, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, was the oldest of seven children growing up. He was homeschooled and graduated during May 2008 and was off off to recruit training the following month.
“One factor to me enlisting was I needed a way to pay for college,” said Clote, from Wentzville, Mo. “I wanted to get out and get some life experiences and the Marine Corps was the only way for me to do both. I was looking for something that would challenge me and develop me more as a person, and I thought the Marine Corps would challenge me the most out of any branch.”
Clote is currently serving on his third deployment, his first two were with Marine Expeditionary Units. During his time in the Marine Corps, Clote has had the opportunity to go to Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, mainland Japan and Afghanistan. For Clote, this deployment to Afghanistan is what he has been waiting for his entire time in the Marine Corps.
“This is the deployment I’ve been waiting for,” Clote said. “I came in and I expected to be in Iraq or Afghanistan within six months of joining. So it took me four and half years longer than I expected but I finally made it out here. I’m definitely glad I got to experience all these different places and do all the things I’ve done. It’s what I was looking for when I came into the Marines.”
Clote decided to join the infantry because it allowed him to do the things he wanted in the Marine Corps. After arriving at 2nd Bn., 7th Marines, he went on to become a sniper.
“I never had an interest in a specific job,” Clote said. “I just wanted to become a Marine and kick in doors. It was the best job for me to do the stereotypical Marine things.”
Since enlisting, Clote has enjoyed his time in the Marine Corps and the challenges that come along with it.
“It’s been good, I don’t regret coming into the Marine Corps,” Clote said. “It’s the best thing I could have done coming straight out of high school. I needed something that was going to challenge me and make me grow and it definitely did that.”
Clote plans on getting out after his current enlistment is done and pursuing a degree and future career that allows him to mentor children.
“I’ve been looking at some different Bible colleges,” Clote said “I like working with kids, so I’ll probably work in like a youth ministry or as youth camp counselor.”
Recently, Clote participated in Operation Helmand Viper, which took place during October in Zamindawar, a known insurgent hotbed between Musa Qal’ah and Kajaki. He has also been a part of visits to Afghan National Army posts to ensure the transition between coalition forces and the ANA is occurring.
“The battalion in general is trying to support the transition for the Afghan National Security Forces to take over the well-being of their country,” Clote said. “For us specifically we’ve been going out and visiting ANA posts and doing what we can to help them.”
Since becoming a sniper, Clote has become a proficient radio operator and has become a vital asset to his sniper team.
“As a Marine, Cpl. Clote is a highly valuable asset to my team,” said Sgt. Andrew Meriwether, a team leader with scout snipers, Fox Co., 2nd Bn., 7th Marines, RCT-7. “His sniper knowledge and skills are undeniable and he’s an invaluable asset to my team. He’s a person of undeniable moral character. He’s one of the best overall Marines and operators I’ve ever worked with. He’s our radio operator and he’s also a school-trained sniper, it really doesn’t get any better than that. He’s exactly what a corporal should be.”
During the duration of his deployment, Clote will continue to provide assistance to the ANSF as coalition forces continue to withdraw from Afghanistan.