Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. --
Name: Lance Cpl. Michael C. Neuenhoff
Hometown: Sykesville, Maryland
Military Occupational Specialty: Combat Photographer, 4541
Being a Marine goes past the uniform, haircuts and swagger. It’s a whole Marine Concept. They are a group of exceptional human beings who embody the Corp’s ethos of honor, courage, and commitment. Now, here is your chance to Meet a Marine.
Do you ever get the feeling of wanting to do more than just the everyday grind? Lance Cpl. Michael Neuenhoff had that feeling his first semester of college. There was a strange sense of incompleteness inside of him he just couldn’t shake. He was ready to do something bigger.
“I was tired of doing the same routine every day,” said Neuenhoff. “There had to be something more out there.”
From playing in the woods until the sun set, to running around with his friends until the sun broke through the horizon, Neuenhoff had an exciting childhood. He dressed up in camouflage, pretended to launch assaults in the woods with his toy guns and used sticks as weapons of opportunity. Staying inside was never an option for Neuenhoff, even as he got older. Neuenhoff would drive around with his friends till they found things that interested them, he was always on the go.
“I’ve always had the desire for adventure,” said Neuenhoff. “I love the feeling of being free.”
His longing for adventure was answered when he and his best friend made the decision to join the Marine Corps and travel the world. They originally signed up to be in the motor transportation military occupational specialty (MOS) until Neuenhoff was given the chance to leave on an earlier date. There were no open spots for that MOS during that time, but he took the chance to leave early as soon as they offered it. On April 8, 2018, Neuenhoff stepped on the yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. not knowing what the next five years would entail.
“My parents were sad but they supported me whole heartedly,” said Neuenhoff. “That was the first time I’ve ever seen my dad cry.”
After graduating boot camp and Marine Combat Training, Neuenhoff was finally given his MOS, combat photographer. Instead of operating and maintaining tactical motor vehicles Neuenhoff swapped it with capturing still photography to support different units. He attended the Defense Information School in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, where he spent 3 months learning the ins and outs of a camera and the basics of being a combat photographer. After graduation, Neuenhoff was given orders to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, where he is now part of the Communication Strategy and Operations’ (COMMSTRAT) photo section. Although Neuenhoff’s primary MOS is a photographer, he gets the opportunity to cross train into different sections, like videography, graphic design, reproduction and media relations. Being able to learn these extra skills not only make him more proficient in his MOS, but also shows initiative on the things he can accomplish by himself.
“I’ve learned how to express my artistic abilities in different formats,” said Neuenhoff. “It enhances my understanding on photography since they all have the same elements.”
Even though he didn’t get the MOS he originally signed up for, Neuenhoff still found something he genuinely liked doing. The Marine Corps made an impact on his life because it gave him that sense of adventure and freedom that he’s been looking for, along with lifelong friends he never thought he would meet.
“The Marine Corps helps protect my friends’ and families’ freedom,” said Neuenhoff. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Neuenhoff hopes to continue to capture the Marine Corps story through photography in places like Australia and Germany. His career goals include leaving his mark on the COMMSTRAT community through skill and impactful imagery.