MCAS BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Private First Class Coty Thomas’ hands that apply detailed, constant maintenance to more than $40 million worth of equipment, play intricate melodies within the confines of his room.
The Tampa, Fla. native is proactive in following his dreams. Currently, Thomas is working on a degree in professional aeronautics and working towards attending Full Sail University, a premiere arts education school.
“I’ve always loved music,” Thomas said. “Avionics is also something I’ve always been interested in. Now, I’m learning with each day I go into work from everyone to better prepare for a career in the future.”
The road Thomas walked wasn’t clear cut and has had professional and personal obstacles muddy his path. He writes using his personal experiences to shape and influence the music he creates.
“I’ve come a long way since boot camp,” Thomas said. “I used to wonder whether I was making a difference in what I do, but having someone thank you for your service while shaking your hand and crying really gets to you – it makes me proud.
“I always wanted to help others and serving my country seemed like the ultimate way for me to do that.”
One struggle involved overcoming not just personal issues but also issues affecting his Marine Corps career.
“My [hardships] have taught me a valuable lesson: in a split second, things can change from good to bad, and I’ve missed out on a lot of great opportunities because of my poor decisions,” said Thomas. “However, I’ve become a lot more socially active, mentally stronger and more focused on my future because of it.”
“I know I’ve been knocked back, but I’ve also gotten back up and will keep moving forward because I can’t let my family down,” Thomas said. “They are my driving force and help me stay focused on work and my life as a Marine now.”
In an effort to improve himself, Thomas has taken several steps: volunteering for and performing with the Air Station choir; designing a new emblem for VMFA-122 in his off time and motivating those around him.
“Even when we were in boot camp, he was a very determined, hard-working, motivated guy,” said Pfc. Frederick Stewart, VMFA-122 powerline mechanic. “He spends a lot of time practicing and studying.”
Thomas’ actions prove, despite setbacks or difficulty, having a goal and ambition can turn a bleak situation into inspiration.