A driven athlete, an accredited scholar, and a loving big brother, Justin DeRoin always knew he wanted to make a difference.

Near the end of his senior year of high school, DeRoin discovered his interest in joining the Marine Corps. After graduating from United Township High School in East Moline, DeRoin spent the summer with his family before heading off to San Diego to begin his training.

He says his experience these past few months has been extremely rewarding. He’s excited to reunite with his family, even if it is just for a short amount of time.

“I’m most definitely excited to be home being with my family is the most important thing to me,” DeRoin said. “Without my family, I don’t think I’d be where I’m at right now — especially my mom. She’s done a lot for me to show me what it means to be a man.”

Justin has 29 cousins who say he’s an incredible role model and has set quite the example for them to follow.

His aunt explained how hard it can be to remain in communication while he’s away. Because of how close the family is, they still make sure to make it happen. After the holidays, DeRoin will resume his work, which means leaving the country for three years.

“We’re very excited to have him here for Christmas. After this he goes for three years — he leaves for three years,” his Aunt Jessica DeRoin said. “He’s never been out of the states away from home, so this is new for his mom and me. We’re just going to enjoy every single minute that we have with him.”