By Vicki Brown
Colleton resident Gunnery Sergeant Travis J. “TJ” Godley was recently honored in a ceremony as he retired from the United States Marine Corps.
The retirement ceremony was held in his honor Thursday, March 31, at the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel and led by Lt. Col. Isaiah Martinez, former Walterboro resident and now executive officer, 9th, Marine Corps District, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, serving in Great Lakes, Illinois. Music was provided by the Quantico Marine Corps Band.
Godley’s sister, Denise Givens, gave the invocation, and his wife, Holly Bryan Godley, received a certificate of appreciation from AJ Pasagian, Brigadier General, which read, “Your dedication and inspiration have enabled the accomplishments of Godley and his successful service to body and country. and embody our motto: “semper fidelis”. Through your attitude of service, you have touched the lives of countless people both in the Marine Corps and in the community. Flowers were presented to Holly Godley and Travis Godley’s mother, Joan McMillan.
At the opening of the ceremony, Sergeant Godley received the Meritorious Service Medal and was congratulated in a speech by Lieutenant Colonel Martinez.
“His superior performance of duty culminated his 20 years of honorable and dedicated military service. By his professionalism, perseverance and loyal devotion to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Godley brought honor to himself and respected the highest high traditions of the United States Marine Corps and Naval Service,” Martinez said.
Godley grew up in Islandton and enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 2001. He trained on Parris Island and completed Marine Combat Training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. After MCT, PFC Godley completed the Personal Computer Repair Course on Telephone Systems at the Marine Corps Communication Electronics School in California.
Godley then received orders at the 2nd Force Imagery Interpretation Unit, 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Cherry Point, NC, as the systems administrator for the Tactical Main Operations Group (TEG-M) of June 2003 to June 2007. During that time he deployed three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and cross-trained as an imagery analyst.
In June 2007, Sgt Godley received orders for the Image Analysis Apprenticeship Course, Goodfellow Air Force Base, TX. In October 2007, Sgt Godley was selected to complete the course early to become an instructor and program designer for the Tactical Imagery Analysis course from November 2007 to October 2010.
In October 2010, Sgt Godley accepted orders from Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 (VMFA(AW)-242), 1st Marine Air Wing, Iwakuni, Japan, where he served as an imagery analyst and chief of imaging from October to fulfill the difficult role of a Marine Corps recruiter. He reported to the Basic Recruiting Course, MCRD San Diego, CA, and was later assigned to Recruiting Station Columbia, SC where he served as a Recruiter and Pool Program Specialist.
In November 2016, Staff Sergeant Godley received orders and reported to Unmanned Marine Vehicle Squadron Two (VMU-2), 2nd MAW, Cherry Point, NC, where he served in as Head of Imaging. On July 1, 2017, SSgt Godley was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant and assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit where he served as Chief of Intelligence and deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
In August 2019, GySgt Godley executed orders at Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, VA, where he served as the Imagery Expert, as well as the Project Officer for the position of remote working of the tactical operating group (TEG-RWS) and virtual imaging processing. Marine Corps system (VIP-MC).
Godley’s personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two gold stars.
In honor of his retirement, he received a letter from President Joe Biden.
David H. Berger, General of the United States Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps, wrote, “Many wish to achieve your accomplished goals, but few can compare to you. You have clearly demonstrated the exceptional leadership qualities and professional contributions we seek from our senior Marines. We are proud of your successful career.
“As a teacher of young Marines, a source of wise counsel and an example of those military virtues we so admire, you have left a mark on the body that will remain long after you have left our active ranks. You have influenced many young Marines who will carry on the same fine tradition that has always characterized the United States Marine Corps,” Berger wrote.
Godley also received a ghost box as a token of appreciation from his colleagues which contained a Marine Corps flag and certificate. The flag was raised March 18 at Marine Corps Systems Command in recognition of his 20 years of dedicated and faithful service.
At the end of Godley’s retirement ceremony, the narrative “The Watch” was read:
“For 20 years, this sailor has been keeping watch.
While some of us were in our bunks at night, this Marine stood guard.
While some of us were learning our trade in school, this Marine kept watch.
Yes. Even before some of us were born into this world, this Marine stood guard.
In those years when the storm clouds of war were seen on the horizon of history, this Marine stood guard.
Many times he would glance down and see his family standing there, needing his guidance and help, needing that hand to hold on through these difficult times, but he remained standing.
He held custody for 20 years.
He kept the watch so that we, our families and our countrymen could sleep soundly and safely each night knowing that a Marine was on watch.
Today we are here to say, “Marine…your watch is relieved, relieved by those you have trained, guided and directed.
Marine you are relieved. We have the watch…”