With a nation readying to pause and remember 9/11 on the 10th anniversary of that world-changing attack, what better way to reflect than to also recognize those who are currently serving our country—helping to protect us as we go about our day-to-day lives.
Cpl. William G. Stickney, born and raised in Roanoke and a William Byrd High School graduate, is one such young man. At 22 years old, Stickney has served in the marines for four years. He recently reenlisted and plans to continue as a career marine. In a phone interview, Stickney said “I first enlisted because of 9/11; I reenlisted in June when I got back from Afghanistan.” He added, “I really enjoy what I’m doing—I feel good about myself.”
Stickney is currently stationed near San Diego preparing to return to the Middle East, where he anticipates he will be patrolling the Pacific and Middle East. He is involved in training missions that will lead up to a seven month deployment in November. Cpl. Stickney is a machine gun team leader for 1st squad, 3rd platoon, Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/1 in the Marine Corps.
He describes his work as “a very difficult job with a lot of stress [and] it takes you away from your family,” but Stickney adds, “there’s nothing they haven’t prepared me to do; I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
Calling from California for a pre-determined interview time, Stickney was easy to talk to, making for a relaxed conversation with some laughter (and a lot of “yes ma’ams”) sprinkled throughout. He was more than happy to make the connection with people back home—letting them know of his commitment to the people of this country and his pride in serving them through his service as a Marine. He liked that he can put a “personal face” out there to the media and the public—“it lets them know what we’re up to.”
He said that “most of the focus is on the war in Afghanistan.” Stickney explained, “We’re a quick reaction force … [who is] “ready to respond in an immediate crisis, or if there’s a situation in Afghanistan [that] might need some help.”
When Stickney enlisted the first time, he was “shipped to California right off.” Despite the distance, he remains close to his parents, Bill and Nila Stickney, “who are very supportive of what I do; they do a very good job of supporting me.” He adds, “I love my parents . . . .”
He comes from a family of five, three girls and two boys. His older sister is married to a Marine, but other than that, Stickney says “I’m the only one [in the military] although I had a grandfather in the Navy.” Stickney is proud of his younger brother, “Josiah Stickney, who plays baseball and football at Byrd.”
Cpl. Stickney’s father Bill says they talk fairly frequently while his son is still stateside. He too recalled his son’s motive for joining the Marines; “after 9/11 he wanted to do something to help.” Bill quietly added, “I’m very proud of him.”
Looking ahead, Cpl. Stickney says after one more deployment he will likely be heading back east to “finish out my career in North Carolina or wherever that takes me.” His wife of two years, Jessy, is from Franklin County. Acknowledging the great weather and the beauty of the San Diego area, Stickney said that it will be hard to leave that part of the country for good, but he knows he will eventually be heading this way as he says, “my wife really misses her family.”