Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    Puerto Rico native goes from soccer field to battlefield



    Story by Cpl. Jeff Drew 

    II Marine Expeditionary Force   

    CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Afghanistan – Cpl. Alexis Lopez Alsina was born with soccer in his blood. He grew up in Cayey, Puerto Rico, where American influences played a large part in his upbringing and the strength of family bonds is paramount. He learned English through popular television programs on Nickelodeon.

    “I enjoyed growing up on a tropical island,” said Lopez Alsina. “It never gets cold, it’s always 80-90 degrees, and you can always wear sandals. My family was really close, we knew everyone in the town, and it’s pretty unique and rare how everyone tries to help everyone out.”

    His love for soccer began at an early age. He began playing at age seven and his passion followed him through high school. The Miguel Melendez Munoz High School soccer team kept Lopez Alsina focused on keeping his grades high and staying out of trouble.

    “It helped me to stay away from bad things,” said Lopez Alsina. “One of the problems we have in Puerto Rico is drugs – soccer helped me to stay away from them. I made great friends who also helped me stay away from the negative influences. We had to maintain our grades to stay on the team, so it definitely helped me focus on schoolwork.”

    Lopez Alsina showed his skill for the sport in 10th grade when the weather was hot, the pressure was high, and the competition was stacked against his team.

    “One of the games I remember the most was when we were down by two at halftime,” said the 21-year-old Lopez Alsina. “We came together in the second half – I scored two goals and we ended up winning the Guayama Regional Championship.”

    He graduated high school in 2009 and, while contemplating going to the University of Puerto Rico to play soccer, Lopez Alsina said he knew he had another calling. He always wanted to join the military to serve a calling bigger than himself since the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. There was no question in his mind the Marine Corps was the best, and his competitive nature lead him to put his signature on the contract. Soccer, however, was never far from his thoughts.

    “Soccer and the Marine Corps are a lot alike,” mentioned Lopez Alsina. “You have to trust the guy next to you. In soccer it’s not all about scoring goals, you have to be able to trust in that defender behind you. You have your forwards attacking; you have your infantry Marines on the front line. You also have your support – everyone has to do his or her job in order for the team to be successful or for Marines to complete the mission.”

    Lopez Alsina has taken his spirit of teamwork from the soccer field straight to the battlefield of Afghanistan, where he currently works with a team of Marines as the Afghan National Security Forces non-commissioned officer for 2nd Marine Division (Forward). He is responsible for coordinating air support requests for Marines in his section, as well as helping his section maintain accountability for all ANSF forces within the division’s area of operations. The division’s ANSF section helps keep Afghan forces organized and assists them in assuming security responsibility for their country.

    “We keep track of all the people (the Afghan forces) recruit; we have numbers on their weapons, personnel, and all of their training operations,” said Lopez Alsina. “I know I’m one of many, but I know doing my part contributes to something bigger than myself.”

    It is this demonstration of selflessness and unyielding teamwork that has earned him the recognition of his senior leadership.

    “He excels everyday,” said Master Sgt. Blaine A. Schlagetter, the ANSF chief with 2nd Marine Division (Forward). “As a lance corporal he was doing the job of a non-commissioned officer. Every time you give him a task, he’s quick to get it done – very little guidance is needed. He gets along with everyone – he can go around the division and get questions answered, and he’s definitely a team player.”

    Lopez Alsina said he’s matured a lot during his deployment; being able to observe so many staff non-commissioned officers and officers has made him more responsible and motivated him to continue his Marine Corps career.

    “The Marine Corps is a place where what you put in is what you get out of it,” said Lopez Alsina. “That’s the way I see it. To me it’s also the most disciplined branch. We strive to be the best in everything we do. It’s love for the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, and earning your title every day. I pride myself every time I go to Puerto Rico and walk those streets in uniform. It’s awesome.”

    Second Marine Division (Forward) heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.



    Date Taken: 09.14.2011
    Date Posted: 09.14.2011 13:08
    Story ID: 77026

    Web Views: 439
    Downloads: 1