UNION—In the summer of 2008, Congress approved an expansion of benefits in the G.I. Bill for military veterans serving after September 11, 2001. In August 2009, recipients became eligible for tuition support, which is based upon the highest in-state tuition charged by an educational institution.
Keeping a keen eye on his future, Pablo Timpson is the first United States Marine veteran to apply and attend Kean under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
Currently a junior international business major, he now employs the same discipline and commitment maintaining a 3.95 GPA, as he did serving for four years as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, attaining the rank of sergeant before completing active duty tour in 2008.
Timpson, a 23-year-old resident of Elizabeth, served one tour as a machine gunner in Fallujah, Iraq, for seven months, and a second tour as a Scout Sniper in Ramadi, Iraq, for nine months. Incidentally, the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill had been introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), whose son was in Timpson’s platoon. Other former members of the platoon now work as aides for Sen. Webb.
In Ramadi, Timpson’s shift would begin each day at 11 p.m. or 3 a.m., and continue for the next 24 to 48 hours, depending on the mission or task given. His platoon’s objective was to observe enemy activity and then debrief superior officers so that they can determine an appropriate course of action.
“Whatever the situation was, our mission as Scout Snipers was to take out high value targets with precision fire and to gather and report timely and accurate information to our superiors,” recalled Timpson. “Information is power. Our job was to paint a better picture of what kind of people were there and what kind of weapons they had, so other friendlies would know what to expect and what to prepare for.”
His time spent in Ramadi proved to be an intensely stressful period, as American troops suffered heavy casualties. “We lost 12 Marines in my battalion and so many more were wounded that we stopped keeping count,” he recalled.
Nonetheless, Timpson always viewed his service as a job, one that was committed to ensuring the safety of others. “We serve the greater good for everyone else,” he said. “I never saw the situation as good or bad. The way I saw it, it was a way of life. You have to adapt to your environment in order to succeed.”
A year after completing his active duty tour, Timpson continues to adapt to civilian life. He is now committed first and foremost to his schoolwork and his job as a customer service representative for HSBC Bank in Summit. Whatever the task at hand, he believes that his service in the Marine Corps, as well as his roots in the Boy Scouts, have given him “the extra push” in everything he does.
“The Marines gives you that discipline,” said Timpson, a former Eagle Scout who now shares his experiences and insight with young scouts. “I see life for what it is. It’s not just about having a good time every day. That isn’t going to pay the bills.”
Timpson credits Stephen L. Vence, director of Kean’s Office of Veterans Affairs, with helping him to make the smooth transition to his studies. “He has done a phenomenal job helping us veterans,” Timpson said. “He has gone above and beyond for me.”
Now a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserve, Timpson acknowledges that he will always be a Marine at heart. Moreover, he is still focused on completing his objectives one day at a time. “I’ve learned not to plan things too far ahead,” he said. “I just try to do my best every day. I live for today and I work for tomorrow.”
Above all, Timpson continues to strive to make a difference. “Went I get old, I want to say that I did something, not just for myself, but for others,” he said.
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