Sean Landis made a family decision back when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
The 27-year old Marine sergeant, who's originally from New York and is currently in Columbus as a recruiter, simply did what his grandfathers and brothers did before him.
"A huge part of it was both my grandpas were in the Marines, and then my oldest brother, he joined the Marine Corps and set the example, pretty much, for all of us," said Landis, who was the Elk & Elk Military Salute honoree at Nationwide Arena on Dec. 5, when the Blue Jackets hosted the New Jersey Devils. "My middle brother joined the Marine Corps, and then I followed in their footsteps. All three of us are Marines."
The oldest Landis brother, Guy, is a gunnery sergeant stationed in Kuwait. Nicholas Landis, is no longer active in the Marines, but ascended to the same rank as Sean, sergeant. Their grandfathers in each side were also Marines.
"It's definitely a legacy that I'm hoping to sustain, for sure," Landis said. "My whole family is from Long Island, but we moved closer to the city. We were living in Newberg, Monroe and Poughkeepsie areas, and that's where I enlisted and joined the Marine Corps."
Landis, who's trained as a Motor Vehicle Operator (MVO), is on the career military track. Prior to being stationed in Columbus as a recruiter, Landis was a platoon sergeant with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in Camp LeJeune, N.C., an infantry unit with a history that dates back to World War II.
Landis was a licensing official, who taught infantry Marines how to operate multiple tactical vehicles. Landis has also been deployed to Japan, South Korea and the Philippines during his career.
His recruiting assignment in Columbus will end in five months, and then he'll head to Cherry Point, N.C., to continue working with Marine tactical vehicles. He's licensed to operate everything from Humvees to heavily-armored troop and equipment transport trucks known as MTVRs. He's also licensed to drive in locales around the globe.
That knowledge of vehicles also came in handy during his Military Salutes night with the Blue Jackets.
After his wife and daughters, ages 6 and 7, were taken to their seats, Landis was taken to a room on the event level of the arena. Inside were anthem singer, Leo Welsh, and NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., who attended the game on behalf of Nationwide Insurance.
Landis said he was a fan of Earnhardt Jr.'s father, a NASCAR legend prior to his death Feb. 18, 2001 during an accident at Daytona International Speedway.
"I have a lot of his dad's stuff [memorabilia]," Landis said. "I always thought it was cool with those two racing together. I actually had a lot of Dale Earnhardt stuff, and then once Dale Earnhardt Jr. started getting more into it, I started getting more of his things too."
Landis didn't, however, get an autograph.
"That was the one thing I regretted," he said. "I didn't want to be that guy."
He did, however, get into a conversation with Earnhardt Jr. about vehicles - specifically, which ones the famous driver owns for personal use. Turns out, he'd just bought a Chevy Tahoe.
"I was thinking, 'You make way more money than me, and you're buying a project car to work on,'" Landis said. "I thought that was pretty interesting. That was pretty cool."
His overall experience that night was too. Landis grew up rooting for New York area hockey teams, but now has a new one to follow.
"I'm definitely a hockey fan, but just never really followed the Blue Jackets before," he said. "I will now. It was just such a great experience to be able to go out there and do that. I was very humbled and proud to be able to go out there and represent the Marine Corps."