John J. Sega – U.S.M.C. Iraq War Veteran – Valencia Resident

John J. Sega, UN Compound Roof, Baghdad April 2003. Courtesy photo

Word of Mouth

While attending a local Republican Women’s club luncheon of which I was invited to speak, club member Sharon Sega informed me of her husband’s excellent military service to our country and I could not resist reaching out to him. John and I met at Valencia’s Corner Bakery where we had a great time swapping old stories, albeit mine were far older. Let me introduce you to USMC Colonel (retired), John J. Sega.

Destiny Determined

John J. Sega was born in 1965 in Burbank, California, but grew up in Northridge and he attended Notre Dame High School where he lettered in soccer and football. During high school, John held a job at Handyman Hardware store before graduating in June 1983. Following his graduation, John attended California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications in 1987. During college John was inspired to pursue a military career and joined UCLA’s ROTC program and earned a scholarship there. However, he felt less than challenged and while at CSUN he met a Marine Corps recruiter and his destiny was promptly determined.

1st Marine Division insignia

USMC Officer Training

Between his Junior and senior year and after a lengthy screening process, John was accepted and attended USMC’s Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA. Upon college graduation, John was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and after further training was assigned to Combat Engineer School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The school’s focus was preparing officers and enlisted engineers to support ground forces with particular emphasis on locating and eliminating land mines and improvised explosive devices. He achieved the Military Occupation Specialty of Combat Engineer Officer in November of 1989.

Famed 1st Marine Division

In November 1989, John was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, which is the oldest and largest active duty unit in the United States Marine Corps. The 1st Marines heralded history includes WWII campaigns at Guadalcanal, Battle of Peleliu, and the Battle of Okinawa. This famed division participated in the amphibious assault at Inchon and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War and during the Vietnam War, the 1st Marines fought gallantly in the 1968 Tet Offensive at Hue. All these legendary engagements occurred long before John came along, but even more historic campaigns were yet to materialize.

100 Days War

John J. Sega Portrait

In August 1990, 1st Lieutenant John J. Sega, as an Engineering Platoon Commander, deployed with the 1st Marine Division as it formed the nucleus of a massive force sent to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. John’s crucial responsibility was breaching mine fields for advancing Marines. It was during Operation Desert Shield that the division supported Saudi Arabia’s defense from Saddam Hussein’s forces. In January 1991, the 1st Marine Division initiated offensive operations with Coalition Forces in Operation Desert Storm, also known as the “100 Days War”. The 1st Marine Division destroyed approximately 60 Iraqi tanks near the Burgan oil field without suffering any losses and the Division’s Task Force Ripper using Patton tanks destroyed about 100 Iraqi tanks and armored personnel carriers, including 50 excellent Soviet T-72 tanks. These efforts were crucial to Kuwait’s liberation from Iraqi forces.

Active Reserves

After John’s Desert Storm deployment, he left active duty and transitioned to the reserves and was assigned to the 3rd Air Naval Gun Fire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) at Long Beach Naval Station. During the next four years, John’s unit supported the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne’s operations. At this time, John attended Infantry Officer Course, Jump School, Pathfinder School, and the Royal Marine Exchange Program. In 1996, John was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines (2/23) serving first at Weapons Company (Port Hueneme) and Headquarters and Service Company (Encino).

John J. Sega Center at Jump Operations, 29 Palms USMC Combat Center, 2007. Courtesy photo

Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom

While serving as 2/23’s Operations Officer, Major John J. Sega, was called to active duty in 2002 after President George W. Bush’s administration and the Pentagon took action against radical Islamic terrorists subsequent to the horrific 9/11 attack. 2/23 was assigned to the 1st Marine Division, led by Major General James N. “Mad Dog” Mattis. 2/23 was assigned to Regimental Combat Team – First, to prepare for the imminent invasion of Iraq. John said, “Before I knew it, I was right back at the exact same base camp where I was in 1991 near Kuwait City.” On March 20, 2003, “Operation Iraqi Freedom” commenced as John’s unit barreled across the Kuwaiti border using 7-ton trucks and Humvees into Iraq at breakneck speed headed to Baghdad. John, now an Infantry Operations Officer, was present in Baghdad but not at the famous toppling of Saddam’s huge statue as his unit’s mission was securing the United Nation’s Compound. During this operation they suffered several causalities. John said, “We were loaded for bear and moving rapidly.” Once their mission was accomplished, Iraqi citizens poured into the streets welcoming them.

27 years of Honorable Service

In May 2003, John returned to the U.S. and was reassigned back to Long Beach with the 3rd ANGLICO, first as the Executive Officer and then as Commanding Officer. After his command, he was promoted to full bird Colonel. Meanwhile as a USMC Reservist, John worked for KPMG, a big 4 accounting and auditing firm and then Northrop Grumman Corporation, a global aerospace and defense technology business giant. John’s USMCR duties were demanding as he was assigned to the Joint Staff J-7 Joint Force Development at Suffolk, Virginia, until August 2014 when he transitioned to inactive reserves. After 27 years of honorable service to his Country, Colonel John J. Sega retired from the United States Marine Corps on September 1, 2017. John earned numerous awards but he’s most proud and grateful to serve with Marines, who are great patriotic Americans.

Private Life

John J. Sega & Sharon’s Wedding Photo

John has led a blessed private life beginning when he met his lovely wife Sharon in college back in 1983. First, they were simply friends but in 1986 there was romance in the air and they began dating which led to his marriage proposal and subsequent wedding on June 7, 1992, in West Lake Village. John said, “I was immediately attracted to Sharon’s graceful beauty, her sense of humor and desire for adventure.” John and Sharon have two wonderful and enterprising children, Steven and Laura. Steven is dubbed “Earthquake Baby” as he was born premature shortly after the massive 1994 Northridge Earthquake. He is currently pursuing post graduate studies in Microbiology at Denver, Colorado’s Metropolitan College. Laura completes her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting/Finance at California State Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo this year. Sharon’s admirable activities include volunteering for “Guide Dogs of America” training puppies to become guide dogs for blind and visually impaired people; she’s raised five at their home. John’s hobby is scuba diving and he enjoys the camaraderie of sharing whisky with his lifelong friends. Thank you Colonel John J. Sega and Sharon, for your long term service to our country and our community.

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