SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - This year marks 20 years since 9/11, and for one San Diego man, it marks 20 years since the event that motivated him to join the military.
Marcus Chischilly said he remembers sitting in school as a sophomore and watching the second tower collapse.
“Every classroom had this TV news station on, everybody was watching it,” said Marcus.
He said in that moment, he knew he wanted to help.
“There was this big sense of if somebody is responsible for this, when the time comes, those of us who witnessed it would make sure justice is served,” he said.
It took some convincing, but he finally got his parents' blessing to sign the paperwork for him to join the Marine Corps at 17 years old. He graduated high school then went straight to boot camp.
His time in the service picked up quickly. In the first five years, he went on four different deployments. His fourth deployment was cut short when he stepped on an IED. He remembers it vividly.
“I was super upset. I knew exactly what happened a second after the blast went off,” he said, going on to say he was not upset about the explosion, but rather upset that he knew he wouldn’t be there with his team.
He ultimately lost his leg and now 20 years later, still has the scars from where shrapnel hit him.
He recovered for two years at the Naval Medical Center, then had the option to join a specialized team within the Marines for people with disabilities (although he said they prefer to not use that word, saying they were a team of people learning how to live life with physical changes). He went on to become a flight equipment technician.
After the explosion, he put in another six years, completing 12 years active duty before retiring.
Now, his focus is on his five kids and wife, plus traveling around and sharing his story to youth and athletes.
“Influencing others to do better to really understand that if they go through some type of ailment or injury, that they should take the time to heal up and get better but also have this trajectory that their life is not over,” he said.
When asked if he would change anything in the last 20 years, even with the injury, he confidently says no.
As the 20-year anniversary of that life-changing day approaches, he says this is a time to pay tribute to the heroes of this era.
“9/11 is a remembrance for all those people who sacrificed and served to help improve our country. I believe that’s what the country’s spirit is about that no matter what we’re going through internally or externally that if there’s a threat to our freedom that there will always be a generation of people to step up and say they want to help to protect that,” he said.