<< The Body Politic

“We like to leave that situation better than we we got there…”

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Writing earlier this week in the U-T San Diego newspaper, Lisa Deaderick profiles the journey of an inspiring Marine at the University of San Diego. Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Adibe enlisted in the Marine Corps in June of 2001 out of a desire to serve his country, and he saw the Marines as a group that can make a difference: “When we go into a situation, we like to leave that situation better than we we got there.” After serving as a logistician in the Marines–where he has been deployed to both Indonesia and Afghanistan—in 2009, as part of the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, Adibe started attending the University of San Diego, where he participates in ROTC. He will earn his bachelor’s degree this summer in sociology, and then will be commissioned as a second lieutenant later this year.

Deaderick writes:

There’s a song that Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Adibe’s mother used to sing a lot when he was younger: “Jesus first, others second, you put yourself at the end of the line, and then you’ll find true joy in your life. …”

It’s a song that likely played in his head when he was the big kid on the playground who didn’t tolerate other kids being bullied. Or when he started a club in college to help people learn about and appreciate each other. And it has increased in volume during his career in the military.


Part of what he enjoys about the Marines is the sense of accomplishment and teamwork that comes with the plans and projects. Then there’s mentoring younger Marines and creating a dialogue with his peers and those above him in rank. There is a tendency people have to romanticize the military and glorify war, he said.

“Yes, we go out and we defend our country, and do it well. We kick in doors and do what we have to do, but there’s even more of a purpose for what we’re doing,” he said.

His point is that a private or lance corporal becomes a kind of diplomat; their job is more than just taking down the enemy, they are the first line of communication with another entity. “It’s more than just fighting, we’re out there to be good stewards.”

When Adibe and his wife of five years, Crystal, moved to San Diego a few years ago, he channeled his desire for stewardship into a club at USD called Think. He wanted to change the lack of connection people experienced, to encourage people to see one another beyond what’s seen in a five-minute encounter.

The club led to a self-published book released in January called “Think: How Dialogue Becomes Action, the Pursuit of Positive Social Change.” He’s also started Altruistic Behavior and Innovations Group, which creates products designed to raise awareness of “human dignity and social issues, and recognize the value of people.” One of those products is a digital comic that addresses issues such as homelessness, gender and racial inequality, education or bullying.