Former Marine and mechanical engineer Jared Goh credits the good things in his life today to his service in the U.S. Marine Corps. To him, it’s meaningful that his infant daughter was born last year on the Marine Corps’ birthday.
America’s oldest military branch turns 246 on Nov. 10. The Corps was established on that date in 1775 — eight months before the Declaration of Independence was signed — to provide added security and support for the Navy. While it’s the smallest of the armed forces, the Corps holds arguably the biggest annual birthday party. Members worldwide celebrate with parades, formal gatherings, and cake-cuttings.
“All Marines have that date permanently engraved into our minds,” Goh said. “It now holds an even more special place in my heart.”
That sentiment has grown throughout his life. Goh describes his childhood self as rebellious, with little focus for his energy and intelligence.
“My life was a weird roller coaster ride,” he said. “I was a gifted/honors student going through middle school and half of high school. At one point, I had full ride academic scholarship to Duke University. I threw it all away to be a bad, rebellious kid. My mom was so disappointed in me.”
9/11 changed all that. Goh was 14 when the attack occurred. He watched the news coverage on a small TV in his Duluth, GA high school.
“I will never forget it,” he said. “As bad as it was, there was a silver lining — and it was that it felt like every person in the United States came together.
“I wanted to be part of the response. It took me a couple years to come of age, and then I had to plead with my parents. I joined as soon as I could.”
Goh was further motivated by his heritage; his parents emigrated to the United States from Malaysia before he was born.
“Seeing how much the country had given to my parents, and as the family’s first-generation American, I just knew I had to give back,” he said. “Especially at the time they emigrated, America was a great powerhouse, the land of opportunity. They came here for a work opportunity and ultimately gave me the opportunity to grow up in a safe environment.”
Life in the Corps
Goh started boot camp — and his own personal transformation — at 19.
“Once I decided to join the Marine Corps, I underwent a drastic change,” he said. “They break us down in boot camp and completely rebuild us from the ground up. It built my character up differently so I could withstand more than I could have ever imagined. Without that, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now.”
Goh served as an infantry assaultman squad leader with combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in the late 2000s with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment Golf Company. His experiences on those deployments include 30-plus direct-action small arms engagements, serving as a vehicle gunner during a rocket-propelled grenade attack, and getting hit by seven improvised explosive devices.
The experience, he said, was one of the hardest things he’d ever done, but also one of the most rewarding.
“You only join the Marines because you want to be there, not because you had to,” he said. “You do your job and do it as Marines do, proficiently and effectively. Outside of combat, we contributed to humanitarian efforts where we could — to try and make things better than when we arrived.
“By doing that, we changed the world. We haven’t had a mass attack from a foreign nation since 9/11.”
Goh continues to pay tribute to the Marines through his work. Inspired by the company’s work with the military, he joined Viasat in 2020. As a Marine, he had used Viasat’s Blue Force Tracking system in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The fact that we have systems in place to make sure our troops are safe is huge for me,” he said. “It was one of the main factors in my decision to work for Viasat.”
Goh plans to spend Nov. 10 celebrating his daughter’s and the Marine Corps’ birthdays — and remembering those who’ve also served.