News: Tough childhood pushes new Marine to be the best
SAN DIEGO - Recruits arrive to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego from all over the country, each with their own story to tell.
Pfc. Gino Garcia, squad leader, Platoon 1021, Company B, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, is one such individual who overcame hardship to forge a name he could be proud of.
“I wanted to do something in my own name, my own way,” said Garcia, a Chicago native. “Instead of having it handed to me, I wanted to earn it.”
Garcia’s life took a drastic turn at the age of six, when he lost his mother.
“My mom was a cop and I wanted to be just like her. We spent every day together,” said Garcia. “She used to pick me up in her squad car and show me around the police station. I wanted to be a cop ever since, to be just like her.”
With nowhere to go, Garcia and his siblings found themselves moving between family member’s homes before settling at their grandparent’s house.
Unfortunately, this did not improve his situation. They spent the next few years enduring a tough home life and were unable to convince authorities of their dire situation.
It wasn’t until his freshmen year of high school that they were finally able to convince police of their bad living structure and be place in their aunt’s and uncle’s home.
“When we moved in [to our aunt’s and uncle’s house], our grades went up and we were allowed to play sports,” said Garcia, 18. “They gave us everything that was taken away when we were living with our grandparents.”
During Garcia’s freshmen year of high school, he performed a pushup challenge with a Marine recruiter, receiving a T-shirt for completing 100 pushups. It was this brief meeting that started him on the path to becoming a Marine.
“I have to be the best, to be the top one,” said Garcia, who was attracted to the Marine Corps due to its physical demands.
Although encouraged by family to finish college before making his decision, Garcia knew he couldn’t wait and made his decision to enlist one week after his 18th birthday.
“My brother went to college and played sports,” said Garcia. “I wanted to go in my own footsteps and start my own career as soon as I could.”
June 4 Garcia arrived at MCRD San Diego to begin recruit training. It’s here he began to realize the liberties that many so often take for granted.
“I have matured a lot from being here. I’m learning a lot from my drill instructors, it’s opened my eyes to what’s going on in the world,” said Garcia. “Nobody else goes through anything like this.”
Shortly after arriving on the depot, Garcia was made squad leader due to his take charge attitude. Four recruits who show leadership potential are chosen to be squad leaders. They look after a portion of their platoon and ensure daily tasks get completed
“He puts out in every event, he’s been a good recruit,” said Staff Sgt. Robert J. Phelan, senior drill instructor, Plt. 1021. “We chose him in the beginning [to be squad leader] because of his demeanor. He was always fast and quick to accomplish tasks.”
Always striving to be the best, Garcia is leaving recruit training as Company Ironman with an above perfect Physical Fitness Test score. He was able to complete 45 pull-ups, run three-miles in 17 minutes 30 seconds and complete 115 crunches in two minutes.
“He stands out and tries to put himself out there and do everything,” said Phelan “He tries to help out other recruits during square away time. He’s a good squad leader.”
Garcia is on his way to become an infantry rifleman in the Marine Corps Reserves. Once finished with his training, Garcia will return home where he was accepted to Illinois State University. He hopes to complete a Bachelor of Criminal Studies with a minor in Culinary Arts. Garcia plans to use his experience in the Marine Corps to follow in his mother’s footsteps and become a police officer.
Date Posted:08.31.2012 11:02
Location:SAN DIEGO, CA, US
- Marine resilient despite adversity
- Recruits get taste of combat fitness
- Company L learns Combat Water Survival
- Final CFT tests Co. G recruits’ fitness level