News: Departing Marine proves to be jack of all trades
Story by Cpl. Thomas Bricker
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - During their time at Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Marines stationed here will perform duties assigned to them including their military occupational specialty, training and qualifications, and perhaps a few additional duties along the way. One Marine, stationed at MCLB Barstow, has done almost everything he could before moving on in the next chapter of his military career.
Sgt. Juan Cerna, a postal clerk by trade, has spent more than four years on station at MCLB Barstow and has dabbled in many different occupations.
Cerna, 26, a native to Merkel, Texas, enlisted in the Marine Corps after an unexpected event.
“I was just about burnt out on college, not wanting to even really finish because I was tired of it,” Cerna explained. “I was sitting in my car debating whether I should cut class or not when I got a phone call from a Marine Corps recruiter.”
After a few minutes on the phone with the recruiter Cerna met with him. During the meeting the recruiter realized he mistook Cerna’s phone number for a high school senior’s number but by this time, things were cleared up and Cerna was convinced what he wanted to do next in life.
After his time in Recruit Training and Marine Combat Training, Cerna attended his MOS school in Ft. Jackson, S.C. Upon graduation, he received his orders to MCLB Barstow.
“I wanted to be somewhere in California so I requested the West Coast. When I received my orders to Barstow though, I was confused. An [Army] classmate knew about [National Training Center] Fort Irwin and suggested I was going there because of its location near Barstow,” Cerna said. He didn’t know MCLB Barstow existed, Cerna explained.
Cerna caught his first break to try something other than performing his duties as a postal clerk after almost a year on station.
“The [Marine Corps] Mounted Color Guard was in need of Marines to ride [horses] for their. So from June 2008 to Jan 2009, I worked with them and went to events to ride with them,” he explained.
After Cerna’s stint with the MCG and a shorter time back at the base post office, he was selected to be the base commanding officer’s driver. This would be Cerna’s last job at MCLB Barstow before his move into a new MOS, location, and overall chapter in his Marine Corps career.
“I became the CO’s driver last year and it was a big change of environment from my last job. I went from dealing with lower ranks to working with the upper half of the totem pole every day,” he said.
“I liked it a lot though. I met people from the commanding general of [Marine Corps Installations] West and now Commandant of the Marine Corps General Amos,” he added.
Cerna left a lasting impression during his time as driver for the commanding officer.
Cerna is a stellar non-commissioned officer. He’s very mature, has sound character, professional at all times, and fully understands his duties and responsibilities, explained Col. Daniel P. Ermer, Commanding Officer of MCLB Barstow. He’s one of the best NCO’s I’ve worked with. He’s one of those fire-and-forget NCOs, someone you can task to do something and not worry about their progress, he continued.
Ermer took in life lessons from Cerna while working with him just as Cerna did, working with the CO.
“We often talked to one another about different situations we’ve both been through in life. I learned a lot from our conversations with him,” Ermer added.
Cerna will depart the Barstow desert sands for his next step in the Marine Corps, attending Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal aboard Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
“I’ve wanted to do EOD or intelligence for a long time. When I started applying for both, I knew which one I wanted more and focused on that one. I was relieved to find out I was accepted after my screening for the EOD field.”
Cerna leaves Barstow knowing he did what he was asked and more while working here.
“I know the cliché is ‘Barstow is what you make it,’ but I think it’s actually true. I think I’ve done everything I could while here at Barstow. I took everything I could and ran with it,” he concluded.