Adam Basso is very familiar with the popular saying among United States Marines. He knows so well that once you are a Marine, you always are a Marine.
Still, after nine years of service that included two tours in Iraq and another posting in Afghanistan, Basso understood he needed more to go on with his life than just relying on the multitude of skills he learned and developed while a Marine.
“I knew there was a reason for me to be a college student,’’ Basso recalled recently, about a month shy of getting his certification from Blackhawk Technical College in Airplane and Power Plant Mechanics, a program that will allow Basso to dive into his goal of being an airplane mechanic.
“I knew I needed to experience things that I didn’t experience when I was young. But I also needed to find out if I could develop a skill that worked with the dreams and goals I put ahead of me for my career path.’’
Basso, who is 30 and lives in Elkhorn, found that route at Blackhawk, which offered a two-year program he was interested in. BTC, he said, “helped give me a license to learn, a license to get my hands dirty.’’
Basso had lots of help along the way. His wife, Iona, works full-time as an office manager at Actuant Corporation in Menomonee Falls, so her job helped pay the bills.
“I’m so lucky to have an awesome wife with such a good job that allowed me to focus on school,’’ he said.
Basso used the GI Bill to cover school costs. “I was getting paid to go to school,’’ he said.
But most of all, Basso used his own drive to pursue a dream that might have ended 12 years ago when he was graduated from Big Foot High School. At that time, he dabbled with the idea of going to a four-year school. Instead, the Marines beckoned.
He took advantage of the Corps’ delayed entry program and entered boot camp in October of 2001, just a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and three months after finishing high school. That began his nine-year whirlwind that included those tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as tours in Hawaii and Japan.
“I’ve been all over the world. I must to have been to about 50 different countries,’’ he estimated. “But nine years is a long time as a Marine. I was an old man by the time I got out.’’
Basso, who left the Marines at the rank of sergeant, was back to being the grunt when he entered Blackhawk.
“I had always wanted to go to college, but I was not sure what I wanted to do,’’ he recalled.
“I finally decided I wanted to work on aircraft. That required college, and Blackhawk was perfect. I didn’t think I needed a four-year program to do what I wanted. That’s kind of tough when you have to pay a mortgage.’’
Now, as he nears completion of his tour at BTC, Basso is preparing for a new adventure, finding a job in his chosen field. He said he will use July to prepare a resume and to start his job search. “It’s time for me to go out and make some money,’’ he said.
He is thankful Blackhawk Technical College offered him an opportunity he could take advantage of. He recommends that other veterans consider the advantages of gaining a technical school degree that puts them on a career track they are interested in. He says everyone who has a goal that fits into a BTC program should not hesitate to check it out.
“”Right now, this is a life ambition more than a need,’’ he said of his pending certification. “This is something I wanted to do.’’