Faces of Pendleton: Michael Fila

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By Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez| Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. —
Brotherhood and camaraderie is a way of life in the Marine Corps. This is what drove Michael Fila, an emergency dispatcher for Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to keep fighting in every battle he went through.

Fila joined the Marine Corps to become a military law enforcement officer. He also had family members who had served in the Marine Corps and wanted to keep the family tradition alive.

“I’m from Brewster, New York, and after Sept. 11, it was a big thing,” said Fila. “ Especially being super close to New York, Sept. 11 was a lot different for us, we knew people who were affected [by the attacks], and after, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Fila was in fourth grade when the 9/11 attacks took place. He lived 45 minutes away from the towers and he had friends and family member who passed away when the towers collapsed. He has a tattoo on his wrist in dedication to his best friend’s dad, a firefighter who that was in the towers when they collapsed.

“I wanted to make sure I did my duty to serve and help make sure that all those lives weren’t just a loss,” said Fila. “I wanted to make sure people knew we cared about them, and make sure people knew we were going to get back at the people who did it.”

Fila chose to be a 5811, which is the military police officer occupational specialty. He served in the Marine Corps from 2011 to 2014. His first duty station was Okinawa, Japan, and after a year he transferred to Camp Pendleton. In 2014, he was medically separated from the Marine Corps as a result of life changing news. One day, the left side of his body went completely numb, and Fila knew something was wrong. When he went to the hospital he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and found out he had it since 2012.

“I was pretty freaked out and I had no idea what I was going to do,” said Fila.

Fila says the Marine Corps made him become a stronger person by teaching him to not letting things affect him. When his body feels like it’s at its limits he knows that it’s not, because he has the strength and mental drive to keep pushing. After going through and successfully completing challenging experiences like boot camp, he knew he could handle it.

Once Fila got medically separated, he had to figure out what his next steps were. Being a Marine and MP was something he loved. He wanted to use his experience and the knowledge he gained from his time in the Marine Corps and implement it in his future career. He also wanted to continue to be around Marines, so he became a civilian contractor on Camp Pendleton. Once he got promoted, he was afforded an opportunity to work side by side with Marines once again.

“I was working at (U.S. Marine Corps Force Special Operations Command) and I had gotten promoted, and one of the promotions was to work the alarms,” said Fila. “ So, I started cross training and learning how to become a dispatcher because that was closest to being an MP or firefighter.”

He became an emergency dispatcher on Camp Pendleton in 2016, and started training. He went through many training courses on how to read and run license plates, answer 911 calls and use various tools to evaluate emergency situations through the phone line. After completing all of his training, he started dispatching on Camp Pendleton in 2017.

“It makes me feel good knowing that I’m still serving the people who are serving in the military,” said Fila. “It helps me connect with the caller on a personal level sometimes, because I’m talking to Marines, and I was a Marine and I know what they are dealing with.”

Fila says everyday is always different, and physically he needs to be prepared to handle anything. When he is having pains, he feels driven to put them aside and continue his job. There are people who depend on him and he knows he needs to put his feelings and pain away and complete his mission for the coworker and Marine to the left and right of him.

“I have worked with Fila for about three years now,” said Jesus Trejo, an alarm and emergency dispatcher that works with Fila. “He is an amazing dispatcher because he used to be a military police officer and he knows what the dispatchers need.”

Fila worked active duty on Camp Pendleton for nine months, and then became a civilian contractor from 2014 to 2018. He continues to serve on Camp Pendleton till this day. He is very familiar and knowledgeable about Camp Pendleton, which makes him a great asset to the call center. In the Camp Pendleton emergency call center, Fila gets the opportunity to work with Marines everyday. Being able to work along side Marines everyday gives him motivation and strength to get through MS.

“It feels like I’m still in the Marine Corps,” said Fila. “As long as I’m physically able to work on this base I’m going to continue to do that, I love this base and I love what we do here.”