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    Musician at heart becomes Marine Corps photographer

    Musician at heart becomes Marine photographer

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Kevin Lopez Herrera | The Lopez Herrera family poses for a photo in Georgetown, Texas, Dec. 20, 2020. Lance...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Devin Phommachanh 

    6th Marine Corps District

    PARRIS ISLAND, S.C.—Among the sounds of video editing, keyboard tapping, and mouse clicks, a Marine quietly hums as he writes captions for the photographs on his screen. From Puerto Rico to Texas, this Lance Corporal is reminded of his musical passion daily as he lives out a newly formed dream: being a United States Marine.

    As the 6th Marine Corps District photographer, Lance Cpl. Kevin López Herrera is responsible for capturing imagery for the district headquarters. His office inside 6MCD resides in the Marketing and Communication (MAC) section.

    López is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, but since 2016, has called Austin, Texas, home. With only one vehicle used by the entire family and his younger sister still in high school, López and his mother, Amabilys López, decided to work together at a nearby school district. Kathy Bell, the Cafeteria Manager for Rouse High School, thought it was unusual for an 19-year-old to join her team but quickly grew to appreciate Kevin’s work ethic.

    “He was just a kid, entering school food services—not fast food, retail, or restaurants—right out of high school,” explained Bell. “Kevin learned fast, never complained, and he would always do what was asked.” Eventually due to short staffing within the school district, López covered shifts at the mobile food truck. Bell explained that López did such a great job, the district called on him more often to move around and work at the mobile truck and other schools within the district. However, after two and a half years, she knew López would move on at some point, especially with the constant movement around the district.

    In 2019, Kevin was stuck at a crossroads with choosing a new career path. He had played both the oboe and percussion in Puerto Rico since the 7th grade, studying oboe professionally in college, but dropped out of school to stay with his family and move to the United States. Kevin wanted to pursue his music career again, but now his sister would be applying to college. This meant on top of needing his transcripts translated to English, his parents would have two children with college expenses.

    “I knew whatever I was going to achieve in life was not to be a lunch man,” said Kevin. “Yes, I was working; I had a job, but it was not what I wanted to keep doing.” He was weary of attending college again with the financial burden it could cause, but needed an opportunity for something better. That opportunity came in the form of a Marine Corps recruiter.

    The Marine grabbed a drink and snack and approached Kevin at the checkout line. They exchanged greetings and chatted about Kevin’s day, but the recruiter’s last comment struck right through Kevin. He asked, “Is this what you see yourself doing for the rest of your life?”

    This was the first time Kevin met a Marine, let alone a Marine Corps recruiter. He knew there was a military base where he grew up in Puerto Rico, but nothing left an impact. Kevin felt the sting of the Marine’s question and wanted to know more about the Marine Corps. He agreed to speak with him at Recruiting Substation Georgetown in May but initially needed more time to consider the option and see if the Marine Corps was what he truly desired.

    “I wanted more time to make my own decision,” explained Kevin. The recruiter was persistent, however. The next day the Marine recruiter returned to the school with a Poolee in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program, and they invited López to speak with a Career Recruiter, Master Gunnery Sgt. Elvi Batista.

    Originally from the Dominican Republic, Batista explained how he did not feel fulfilled with his career choices. Kevin reflected on how he missed eight years of studying music and his current job in high school cafeterias. Ultimately, Kevin felt the same and wanted to know more about the Marine Corps’ Music Enlistment Option Program (MEOP).

    Before making his decision, Kevin asked his manager for advice. “Kevin is just Kevin.” Bell explained, “He is inquisitive and always aimed for self-improvement.” Bell was excited and encouraged Lopez to pursue the military. She said he was still young, could travel the world, and thought the military would be a good next step.

    When Kevin told his parents he wanted to join the Marines, he was greeted with excitement and support and recalled his mother saying, “Imagine that my son is a Marine.”

    In June, Kevin decided to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAP) to see which Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) he qualified for. After learning about the MEOP audition process, Kevin realized he had not professionally studied his instruments in almost three years and chose a different path. “[Kevin] loves music, writing, and drawing, so I was not surprised when he picked a job to use all of his talents,” said Amabilys. After learning the basics of Communication Strategy and Operations, COMMSTRAT Marines learn one of three specialty assignments: photographer, videographer, and graphic designer. Kevin chose to be a Marine Corps photographer.

    “We were, and still are, very excited he is a Marine,” said Amabilys. His mother explained that Kevin was not on any sports teams or athletic clubs growing up. She knew his next biggest challenge for his new dream was going to be physically preparing for recruit training. Kevin trained at RSS Georgetown in the DEP for about eight months before he passed the Initial Strength Test and was able to attend recruit training. “I remember every Saturday and during the week after work, he would go to [physical training] with recruiters.”

    In July 2020, Kevin graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina and completed MOS training at the Defense Information School at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. From working in high school cafeterias to becoming a United States Marine, his mother, father, and sister supported him through it all. “I am proud of him. He is very talented. We are just so proud,” said Amabilys. “My oldest and my most precious.”



    Date Taken: 02.21.2023
    Date Posted: 02.28.2023 16:37
    Story ID: 439276
    Location: PARRIS ISLAND, SC, US 
    Hometown: SAN JUAN, PR

    Web Views: 47
    Downloads: 1