AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Locking the doors of his family-owned business for the final time, Matthew T. DiTomaso was taking steps to ensure the safety of the ones he loved.
Corporal DiTomaso, now a police sergeant for Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, closed down his successful automotive restoration and body work business to enlist in the Marine Corps in March of 2003.
Watching the events of September 11th and the following wars from his home, DiTomaso felt the need to make a difference.
“Having a wife and kid at home, I wanted to do something to keep stuff like that from happening in the United States,” said DiTomaso, a 30-year-old native of East Lake, Ohio.
Since enlisting, DiTomaso has conducted three combat deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Now with nearly four years of active duty service in the Marine Corps and another child on the way, DiTomaso feels no regret over his decision to enlist in the Corps.
“I don’t miss it too much,” said DiTomaso. “I get more satisfaction out of being a Marine and I am proud of what I do.”
DiTomaso re-enlisted in November to serve another four year term as a Marine, finding a comfortable place in the Corps.
Experiences throughout his first tour, the bond with his fellow Marines and the support of his family were strong contributors to his decision.
“I have a purpose, I do my job well and the camaraderie is great,” said DiTomaso. “If it wasn’t for my wife’s support though, I wouldn’t have re-enlisted.”
Although DiTomaso has plans to stay a Marine, his passion for cars has not been forgotten.
In-between his deployments, DiTomaso continues to do restorations on vehicles during his off time.
DiTomaso gained his love of vehicle restoration from working alongside his father at a young age.
Finishing his first full restoration at the age of 16, DiTomaso was bound for the business.
“The work grew on me because I grew up fixing cars,” said DiTomaso. “I got good at it and it appealed to me.”
DiTomaso opened the business at the age of 18 after working various jobs to earn the money for the proper tools.
DiTomaso’s Automotive Restoration and Body Work was open for eight years in East Lake, Ohio, before closing for the owner’s change of careers.