Name: SgtMaj Paul Davis USMC (Ret)
Title: Senior Strategist
For most of his life, Paul Davis has lived and breathed the Marine Corps.
Funny thing is, he had no desire to join the military. Originally, he planned for a law enforcement career.
Instead, he ended up a Marine.
Even several years into his military career, after a stint at Camp David, he interviewed with the Secret Service. He thought a career change was in order. Then someone talked him out of it.
Ultimately, the Marine Corps won again.
Last year, after 27 years of service, he retired as a sergeant major.
If you ask him what he did during his career, he laughs.
“A lot,” he says.
The retired sergeant major has, indeed, done a lot.
Even though Paul retired slightly earlier than planned, he’s proud of his Marine career and thrilled to continue working with the military through Sandboxx.
He didn’t even take a break between retirement and his new role as a senior strategist — he hopped right into the job while on terminal leave.
So what’s this former Marine do these days?
Each day, he starts off with a workout before digging into his work. Some days he works from home; other days he’s on the road meeting with commands, recruiters, military support agencies, and briefing recruits or trainees on using Sandboxx.
Every Thursday he visits with Parris Island recruits to share the Sandboxx mission.
“I get to stay connected not only with the Marine Corps but every branch of service,” he says. “And the way that Sandboxx can help the service members and family members communicate back and forth is amazing to watch and fun to be a part of and assist.”
For him, spending time on Parris Island is like going home.
“I was born there as a Marine and got to retire there as a Marine,” Paul says.
Interestingly enough, Sam Meek,
“I was very interested in the concept and took it back to the command to see about bringing Sandboxx to Parris Island,” says Paul. “It went extremely well — the families were more informed and the recruits’ morale increased.”
As a result, recruiters started using Sandboxx as an easy communication method. Paul believes it’s even changed the success rates of training Marines as well.
“I personally believe Sandboxx assisted with lowering attrition at Parris Island,” says Paul. “Recruiters started using Sandboxx due to the social network it provides. To date, there are several thousand recruiters utilizing Sandboxx across the DOD.
When Paul returns to his Marine birthplace, it triggers a lot of memories from his service years, including working three times at Parris Island.
Memories like providing security for former president Bill Clinton at Camp David.
Or recollections of training young recruits to be the best Marines.
And a new reminder of why it’s important to continue serving, even if it’s in a very different role.
“Everybody should do their part to serve this country in some kind of capacity,” he says. “Whether it’s military, local government — at some point everybody should give back to their country to a degree because this country gives us so much.”
When he started his career off in 1991 in Rota, Spain, Paul knew life would be a whirlwind of excitement and exhaustion. He met his wife, Natalie, a U.S. Navy sailor, there.
In December 2018, they celebrated 25 years of marriage. When asked what the secret to surviving a military marriage is, he isn’t sure there’s a true secret.
“I don’t know what the secret is,” Paul says. “Find a good spouse who can put up with it — it is a hard life.”
Through the years they built a life together traveling around the country at the Marine Corps’ request. His career took him all over the U.S. and world — Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Iraq, Afghanistan, Maryland, and North Carolina.
While it challenged their family of five, Paul would do it all over again for the experience. He can’t pick just one favorite period in time as they were all so different, challenging, and enjoyable.
“Whether it was on the drill field, serving at Camp David or my time in combat…they all have special places,” he says. “All of them had just as much hardship as they were special. I think that’s how you grow — through hardship. Especially when you have fellow Marines right beside going through the same thing. It’s hard to put into words.”
His effort over the years also earned him a huge amount of respect and honors like the Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with three gold stars, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with one gold star, Combat Action ribbon, and Presidential Service Badge.
Upon retirement, Paul also received the Legion Of Merit.
Some of his most rewarding work to date was his time as a drill instructor. Even when he worked 120 hours a week, the thrill of watching Marines refreshed him.
To this day, it still does.
“It’s the hardest and most rewarding job you could ever do other than serving in combat. And I’ve had the privilege to do both,” he says. “It’s a honor to be a Marine, but there’s a few selected that have the honor and privilege who make those people become Marines. It’s one of the few jobs you can see change before your eyes.”
And while recruits need a ton of love and support in training, Paul advises it shouldn’t stop there.
“Support what the service member is doing regardless of the branch of service,” he says. “Try to learn as much as you can about the branch. The more you understand, the more it will make sense. At the end of the day, the support to that
servicemberis vital. That’s why I love working with Sandboxx; they provide that support for that family member and service member.”