May 30, 2012 - Being newly married to his high school sweetheart and unable to find a job in the early 1980's, Lake Orion native Daniel Choike, decided to join the United States Marine Corps, little did he know he would be in the Marine Corp for 30 years.
After 30 years in the Marine Corps former Lake Orion Resident Col. Daniel Choike retired. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
On May 18 Choike relinquished his duties and retired with honorable service at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Stafford Virginia.
"Being a Marine is not an occupation, being a Marine is a lifestyle. It's living by your core values of honor, courage, and commitment were things that were engrained into me early on," he said. "Continuing to live that lifestyle is probably what has kept me after all these 30 years."
He was commissioned in August 1982 and over the course of his career has served in various command and staff billets as an Infantry Officer, Motor Transport Officer, and Logistics Officer. He was also assigned to special duties related to finding and making Marines, which include four tours on recruiting duty and one command tour at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California.
In September 1992, he was the Operations Officer for Task Force USMC Engineer, which provided disaster relief assistance to the citizens of the island of Kauai, in the wake of Hurricane Iniki. In February and March of 1994, he participated in Operation Restore Hope, and served as the Egyptian/Coalition Liaison Officer for Joint Task Force Somalia.
As a Colonel, he was assigned duties as the Director of Installation and Logistics, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center/Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, 29 Palms, California, and he commanded the largest Marine Corps training detachment at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His last assignment was the Chief of Staff, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, Quantico, Virginia. In June 2009, Colonel Choike assumed command as the Base Commander for MCB, Quantico.
Choike said one of the things that made him really think about joining was watching his dad be apart of an elite team at a job associated with hardship. His dad retired after 36 years of providing public service as a career firefighter for the City of the Detroit.
"To me his occupation of providing public service and being a part of what I would call a pretty elite team one in which the job itself had some hardship associated with it, he said. "It was the example of my father in his profession and him telling me 'whatever you decide to do in life, whatever job you decide to have, make sure you pick it and you love what you're doing and love to come to work on daily basis.'"
Choike said as long as he enjoyed doing what he was doing, enjoyed the mission and the people who surrounded him he felt compelled to stay and continue on. Though he did admit there were times he contemplated leaving.
"Something kept telling me 'you're not finished here yet. You're not finished with what you're doing, and you're still having fun,'" he said.
Now, that he's retired from the Marines, Choike is going to work for Technology Associates International Corporation (TAIC) where he will be vice president of critical infrastructure development.
"I'm excited about retiring and staying in the area to continue to serving the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense in a different capacity," he said. "I just won't be wearing a uniform."
Choike was born in Detroit and moved to Lake Orion at the age of 10 in 1969 with his parents and five sisters.
"I can really thank my dad for making that decision way back then to take a big family and to give us a quality of life that some people only dream about," added Choike. "He worked hard, several jobs trying to keep the family supported and to allow us to live a life on the Lake."
According to Choike, Lake Orion represents a place with a lot of fun activities for you and your friends to really have a great time. He enjoyed skating, playing hockey and sledding in the winter, while boating, swimming, and waterskiing in the summer. He also recalled as a young kid going up and down the railroad tracks pop bottle hunting or running and riding his bike through the woods with his buddies.
"I got nothing but great memories because there was so much to explore, and so much to do in Lake Orion towards outdoor activities," Choike said. "I think in today's day and age some of the kids lose sight of what fun you can have just by being outdoors."
Sports were another important aspect of his life growing up in Lake Orion. He was on both the football team and the wrestling team. He wrestled at 177 pound weight class.
Choike said his sporting opportunities carried him on through college. After he graduated from LOHS in 1977 he went to Olivet College, where he not only got to continue wrestling, but received a Bachelor's in Business Administration.
"Sports played an integral part of getting a college education, but more importantly becoming a part of a team and becoming a Marine," he said. "The leadership skills and the qualities that I gained from playing sports were directly applicable toward being a Marine Officer."
He and his wife Debbie have three children, Allison, Elizabeth, and Daniel, as well as two year old grandson, Adam and their son-in-law is currently in Afghanistan as a major in the United States Army.
As for Lake Orion, Choike said it will always hold a special place in his heart.
"To everybody back home there in great old Lake Orion I wish everybody the best," he said. "I'm not saying I'm never coming around because I got so many ties back there in that we'll definitively be back when the weather's nice enjoying the lake and hopefully get a chance to see and bump into some people I haven't seen in a quite a long time."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.