I noticed Baron in Susan Taylor’s yoga classes. He stands out because he looks tough, is one of the only dudes and laughs a lot. I never spoke to him until another student said, “He’s cool. You should interview him for your blog.” Good advice.
When and why did you enlist in the Marines?
I signed up on my 18th birthday. I always knew that I would be a Marine. Since I was a little kid and I went through my grandfather’s footlocker and I found his uniform. My father, grandfather, great-grandfather on both sides were Marines. I’m a 4th generation. I thought about being a Green Beret and I knew I definitely wanted to be in the military. Since my whole family was Marine, that’s what I did.
What’s your daily routine?
I’ve been in a lot of places where everyday I had to report at 4:30am. But now I have to be there at like 6 or 7. By 7 o’clock we do a formation. I go to the gym from about 10:30 to 12, which is my lunchtime. I get off at 4:30. I’m in charge of calibration of electronic stuff. So it’s almost like a normal job, but I also have to do the shooting and all the Marines stuff.
Where have you traveled as a Marine?
I’ve been to 41 countries. In the Marine Corps, we really only have Japan. The Army and Air Force, they have bases everywhere. But the Marine Corps is just kinda East Coast, West Coast and Japan as our Pacific Hub. We’ve got 3 main spots.
I was stationed in Okinawa for 3 years. That was awesome because we lived in town, in the village, and we got to meet the locals more. I spoke very good Japanese when I was there. I pick up languages fast, but I also lose them fast.
Country music videos are full of military themes. What do you think about the stereotypical ways in which military people are presented in pop culture and media?
There are more military people on the right-wing side of politics, but there are plenty from all walks of life. I was a drill instructor on the East Coast, too, so I’ve dealt with everyone. New York has a lot of people joining the Marines, but of course New York is not only New York City. I was living in a very urban environment, mixed with different cultures and different religions. For me, the Marines is a melting pot. There are populations from all over the country and we all HAVE to be together. There’s no choice to not be together. So you have to learn about other types of music and religions.
What kind of work have you done with young Marines?
I worked with them en masse as a drill instructor. Like 5-600 of them all together. I teach them morals. I want to be their conscience. I don’t care if they know my name, but I want my voice in the back of their head every time they go to do something. Not screaming at them, but helping them make smart decisions.
I was also in charge of a military school. Those are smaller classes, like 12 people, and you get to know them more personally. It’s not so fast paced. The ones with problems you can identify. If they’re struggling, you work with them. The first thing I tell them is that the word “need” is very important to me. So if you have a medical issue, you need help medically. If something’s wrong with family back home, you need to get help with that. Anytime there’s a need versus a want, that’s where I try to differentiate. Maybe you need your wants and I might be able to help with that, too. But I try to tell the young guys that there’s a program for every single possible thing that’s ever happened. They might think “woe is me” but there’s probably a way we can help them. Especially the needs. That becomes a priority.
Do you teach yoga to fellow Marines?
I do, but we do lots of different types of training, like MMA. I’m doing a paper now that’s comparing Combat Fitness to yoga and a lot of it’s the same, like the postures and the dristhi. You know, we’re not just going through the motions. We’re actually trying to activate the muscles.
You know that idea that the asanas are the smallest portion of yoga? At first I didn’t know anything about yoga. But all the things I’ve taught the majority of my life are those same things. And the military is all about family, helping people, not stealing, honor, courage. So to me, it fits. Sometimes the guys will give me crap about doing yoga. But I don’t care because I’ve done tons of amazing physical things and now I’m refocusing on this. I knew I would end up with yoga eventually.
What’s the best skill you’ve acquired through the military?
Being able to talk to people and to read people, to sense when they have a problem or issue. They think their situation is the worst thing ever and that it’s never happened to anyone else, ever. But then I have the answer and it’s like, “Tada!” I like to have the ability to help people with their problems.
What’s your plan for after the Marine Corps?
You have to be in 20 years to get that 50% retirement. I enlisted when I was 18 and now I’m 36. So I have about 2 years left here and then on to the next thing.
I plan to start training people with different kind of sports. And I’ll teach people at the Expedition and Warfare School for the Marine Corps part-time. And hopefully this Ashtanga thing. I do a lot of training stuff. I can run 50 miles, do CrossFit, yoga stuff. Whatever kind of stuff people want to do- I can give them a broad spectrum.
What was the hardest day of your life?
Moving to the West Coast and leaving my sons back on the east coast. I have 2 kids in Mississippi. They’re 10 and 6, Baron and Roman.
What’s your favorite late night activity?
I like dancing. I’ll dance to anything. I just don’t like people screaming at me, so no death metal.
What makes you angry?
Ignorance. People making decisions or talking about something that they don’t understand. But people are scared to ask about stuff they don’t know unless it’s presented in a manner that makes them feel comfortable.