But being a professional athlete is the stuff that pipe dreams are made of, and as Walker progressed through college he realized he might need a “Plan B” to back him up.
As he sat on his parents’ porch in Boca Grande, he looked just like the laid-back kid he had described himself as being his whole life.
It certainly can’t be that easy to live a “Zen” life with secret service around your family so much of the time, but he pulls it off.
“I never really thought about politics or anything,” he said. “That’s not me at all. When I was little I never much thought about what I would do. I’m one of those guys who kind of just says, ‘Whatever.’ I definitely never thought I would be going into the Marine Corps.”
And he’s going in as a private first class, to boot. The 22-year-old finished boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. earlier this year and is headed to Afghanistan in the early part of 2012 as a machine gun operator.Which, again, seems incongruous with his laid-back nature, but, really who can argue with how cool it is to shoot a machine gun?
“I only wanted to be an infantryman,” he said. “I told them I wouldn’t join unless I was in the infantry. I didn’t want to be sitting at a desk, I like working with my hands.”He enjoyed training on the weapon very much, he said.
It wasn’t until his later years of high school that he decided to go into the armed forces. A good friend of his helped him make the life-changing decision. When Walker was finishing his first year of college at Texas Christian University, he went to his buddy’s graduation from boot camp.
“He had always talked about the military, and then eventually I saw him join and go through it,” he said, referring to his friend. “I saw the change that we went through, and how great it was for him. That’s when I decided, and I signed on for four years.”
Afghanistan, he said, was thrown in front of him as soon as he used the word “infantry.” He was assured that he would end up there eventually, but he says he’s ready to go.
“I knew what was going to happen from the day I signed,” he said. “It kind of hits when you get to that point, when you’re almost there, getting ready to leave. All my senior guys have been there, but they all got back in March. It was good to talk to people who understand what is going to happen, what I’m going to go through.”
What he’s looking forward to at this point is the possibility of -30 degree temperatures when he arrives in the mountainous country, but no worries. It will quickly warm up to about 120 degrees in the shade.
It’s a far cry from the balmy temperatures of Boca Grande right now. Walker said he has always loved the island, and has vacationed here many, many times in his life.
“We came here every Christmas, every Spring Break, every summer,” he said. “I love it here. It’s nothing like my home in Virginia, but it’s a different kind of love I have for this place.”
As far as the security and hullabaloo that goes with his famous first family, it doesn’t really phase him. His grandfather, by the way, is George H.W. Bush, our 41st president. His uncle is George W. Bush, our 43rd president, and his other uncle, Jeb, was the governor of Florida for a bit.
His parents, Marvin and Margaret Bush, are Boca Grande residents. Marvin is a retired corporate executive. Margaret is retired as well and is a featured actress with the Royal Palm Players.
But, again with a Zen-like attitude, a mere eyebrow is raised by Walker when asked about all the fuss.
“I’m just used to it, I guess,” he said. It’s just normal to me now. My whole life has been like this.”
Walker plans on spending a little more time in Boca Grande before heading home to Virginia, where he will hopefully have a few days to hunt and fish before leaving for Afghanistan. He says he’s still amazed that he’s made it this far in the process, considering marine training is a bit rough, to say the least. The difficulty of the task ahead has made his resolve steely, though, and he is more than ready to do the best that he can do to serve his country.
“It was always interesting me, to go into the Service, but I never thought I would actually take the step,” he said. “I didn’t think I had it in me. But I learned in boot camp that everything happens for a purpose, and you can do everything you set your mind to, if you really want it. This was certainly one of those things where I had to go 100 percent forward and completely want it. I feel dedicated and I feel ready.”
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