MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Close your eyes. Now picture the physical embodiment of a specimen quality Marine.
Undoubtedly something along the lines of John Cena in “The Marine” comes to mind. He’s tireless, fearless, and, well, one dimensional; lacking the depth to more than just fight.
When first meeting Cpl. Daniel Callaway, it would be easy to make a similar assumption.
Standing a chiseled 5-feet-10 inches tall with a shaved head, he could define the Marine stereotype. Add the fact that he’s a brown belt Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor and many would believe the stereotype, never knowing what was missed.
“Having a healthy body, mind, and relationship with God is all part of the complete package,” said Callaway, a 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarkation specialist. “If we focus on just one and not the other two, we are not becoming fully developed in life.”
The primary way Callaway maintains his fitness is with martial arts training. He says it was an addiction ever since his first karate class in his hometown of Tustin, Calif. at the age of 8.
What I really liked about martial arts is that it takes a lot of discipline,” said Callaway, who is also a martial arts movie buff. “Anyone can throw a wild punch, but to see martial artists like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris use techniques and adapt them to any situation is really cool.”
Over the years everything from Jujitsu to Tae Kwon Do has sparked Callaway’s interest, but it was after his first MCMAP class in recruit training that becoming an instructor became a goal.
“The first week at my command, I was asking about training up to grey belt. I kept asking my superiors about it until they put me through the course,” Callaway said with a laugh. “To be effective in a combat situation you have to be in shape. All the drills in MCMAP are focused on combat conditioning so if we get into a combat situation we have already trained our bodies and won’t fatigue as easily.”
Just ask one of his students and it apparent that Callaway takes his position as an instructor seriously.
“He’s an awesome instructor,” said Navy Lt. j.g. Russell J. Sansone, 24th MEU medical planner and Buffalo, N.Y. native. “He’s a squared away Marine and it’s a privilege to have him as my MCMAP instructor.”
To Callaway a strong body is useless without a strong sense of spirituality.
“Growing up I went to church with my mother and was involved in a lot of youth programs,” Callaway recalled. “My whole young life I did it because my mom did it. When I got older, I started to think for myself and I got serious about my relationship with God. A relationship with God is important to me because God created life and knows how life should be lived.”
It was this strong faith that led Callaway to begin a weekly Bible study at his barracks every Monday night.
“I enjoy Bible study because of the interaction with other Christians,” said Callaway. “I learn more about God by getting other people’s perspective and seeing what God is doing in their life.”
When not working his physical and spiritual muscle, Callaway continues the college studies he began before joining the Corps.
“I saw all the other college students who were just taking classes, working in McDonalds and partying all night. I decided there was a better way to do it – so I joined the Marine Corps. It allows me to be important and serve my country while taking college.”
Callaway is currently enrolled with Excelsior College of New York with a major in Business with a plan to apply for a commission once finished.
“College exposes you to a lot of knowledge, and expands the way you think” explained Callaway. “Physical strength is useless without knowledge and guidance.”
This 22-year-old believes that he’s found the right balance of physical fitness and education while pursuing spiritual growth to ensure he gleams the most from life – making stereotypes evaporate on his path towards enlightenment.