News: Recruit learns to lead without billet
Story by Cpl. Matheus Hernandez
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - When recruits arrive aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego for recruit training, it often depends on the individual how well they adapt to the environment.
For Pfc. Manuel Lomeli, Platoon 3234, Company K, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, his drill instructors found it very difficult for him to adjust in the beginning.
“I think it was a culture shock for him,” said Sgt. Enrique Mendoza, drill instructor, Plt. 3234. “He’s a smart kid, but it was hard for him to adapt. I had to pay extra attention to him and teach him things a different way so he could understand. He’s always showed that he cares, but I think what happened was he would try so hard that he would mess something up.”
Although it was difficult for Lomeli to adjust at first, he soon became familiar with the lifestyle and grew stronger as a recruit in training and as a person, according to Mendoza, a mentor to Lomeli.
“Once a recruit starts to see the positive things, and once they accept the lifestyle, it all starts to make sense,” said Lomeli. “The talks drill instructors would give us really meant something and I took them to heart.”
Growing up, motivated by Marine Corps advertisements, Lomeli always felt the desire to serve his country. Even though that was more than enough to take the step toward becoming a United States Marine, his family was the main reason that lead him to his decision as well as becoming a part of something bigger than himself.
“I could say it’s because I’ve always wanted to enlist, but I realized it was more because I wanted to make my family proud,” said Lomeli. “I guess in a way I never really knew who I was and all this time I was looking for an identity to associate myself with. I finally found it in recruit training.”
Lomeli’s actions have always been for his younger siblings, making every effort to set a good example. He hopes that this will shed a new light to them, giving them another reason to look up to their older brother, explained Lomeli.
“He’s always tried to set the example for us,” said Melissa Lomeli, his younger sister. “He’s told me through letters that he’s growing up as a person and that he wants us to grow up as a family.”
During training, Lomeli gained courage, but more confidence than anything as he learned to overcome obstacles making tough decisions throughout the cycle.
“You can see him taking initiative,” said Mendoza. “He wants to be a leader and he has the potential to be. When he understands something now and why (drill instructors) do something, he feeds it to the recruits, and they listen to him.”
Lomeli did not earn a billet within his platoon, but it didn’t stop him from trying to become a leader.
“I don’t have a title,” said Lomeli. “I’m not a guide or squad leader, but I don’t need one. In here, we’re all training to become leaders.”