Marine Portraits: Instructor gives his life to service

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Establishing a truly resilient lifestyle is contingent on finding a purpose, something that drives an individual to succeed and strive for greatness.

Some find their outlet easier than others. In the case of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Christopher Lambert, the urge to volunteer has been ingrained from a young age, even if he didn't realize it.

"My father has been a coal miner for 25 years," said Lambert. "He is my No. 1 hero. The work he does takes him miles below the earth, sometimes working under terrible conditions, life- threatening even, to do a job that nobody else will do."

Lambert joined the Marine Corps in 2003 and came to Keesler to be an instructor for the general purpose electronic test equipment calibration and maintenance school with the Marine Corps Detachment. His interest in electronics stem from his high school days in Oceana, W.V.

His upbringing in rural Appalachia also contributed greatly to the work ethic that he has found mirrored in military life, he said.

"The way I grew, up everybody worked together," Lambert explained. "It was a community. If somebody was building a house, all the neighbors were there to help. That's the way I grew up, so I've always been ready to jump in and help out."

Jumping in to help is exactly what volunteering is, and improving the local community can start in small steps.

Arriving at Keesler in 2010, Lambert was unfamiliar with the area even after being a student here in 2004, he said.

"Volunteer work is a great way to interact with the community," he pointed out.
It doesn't usually take specific skills or a certain personality type to participate in volunteer events. Helping others can be as simple as being present or doing manual labor, and it's an easy way to meet like-minded people, said Lambert.

"I'm an introvert -- not super outgoing, but if I'm volunteering it gets me out with my students instead of sitting around playing video games," he said. "It started as something just to pass the time and then became an awesome way to be involved."

His first event in the Biloxi area was being an usher at a concert held by one of the casinos. By providing ushers, the Gulf Coast Women's Center for Nonviolence receives monetary donations to help in their fight against domestic violence and sexual assault.

It only took the single event to know volunteering was for him.

Once he was plugged in, the events kept coming, said Lambert. He got students involved and began organizing events for the community.

"It started with us seeking out events in the community, and then they started contacting us for assistance," he added.

"I was designated as the command volunteer representative, but any event I organized I also attended and the students really appreciate that," said Lambert. "The students respond to leading by example. If it's a great experience for them, it might transfer the spark for them to find volunteer events on their own."

Since arriving at Keesler, Lambert has volunteered more than 1,200 personal hours and has been awarded the outstanding military volunteer medal for his three years on base. He will take volunteering with him wherever he goes, he said, and hopes to leave that fire of service behind with his troops as well.

"I joined the military for the experience," said Lambert. "My goal was to get the experience and get out, but 10 years later I'm still here and I love it."