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Twentynine Palms

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

Twentynine Palms, California
What I’ve Learned: Michael Anthony Alvarez-Gomez

By Lance Cpl. Rachel K. Porter | Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms | April 17, 2018

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>I’m originally from Chicago, but moved to Indiana when I was 8 years old. I didn’t do much in Indiana except for work, and I didn’t have time for friends until I became financially independent at the age of 16. I worked at my family’s restaurant called “Dos Rios Tacos.” It was cool. There were two rivers that met right in the town I lived in, that’s why we named it Two Rivers Tacos.

>My father was arrested when I was 8 years old and up until that time, the family’s finances were pretty good. Before he was arrested, I had more of a childhood but I still worked shifts at the restaurant. After he was arrested, I shut down and refused to accept it. I worked more and didn’t realize much about the strain on our family’s finances until my mother had to shut down the restaurant because the taxes were becoming too heavy.

>My mother raised 5 children alone, I’m the middle child in the mix. I got along pretty well with my oldest brother before he left to join the Marine Corps. I fought a lot with my second-oldest brother because we were both alpha males who lacked respect for one another.

>I did a lot of babysitting at the restaurant, so I spent a lot of time with my youngest siblings. My two youngest siblings were 3 years old and a few months old when my father was arrested, so I tried my best to be the hard hand that would guide them on the right path, but I don’t think they appreciated it at the time.

> After the restaurant shut down, I started working over the summers picking up odd jobs as a corn husker and at a bakery. I’d get up at 3 a.m. to drive an hour to work and start my day at 4:30 a.m. to finish at 4:30 p.m. They were just days of plucking corn. The days were humid and hot, so I’d take my shirt off and come out with tons of rashes and cuts from the plants.

>Since the age of 7 I’ve wanted to join the Marine Corps. After seeing the commercial with the silent drill platoon performing on the side of a mountain in San Francisco, I realized what I wanted to do. I was motivated before I enlisted. Before I left for bootcamp, I lost 40 lbs. and went in weighing 208 lbs. When I graduated, I weighed 167lbs. When it comes down to it, I believe I am the hardest worker in the room.

>My favorite part about being a Marine is working next to my unit every day. When working with forty to fifty people who are all striving toward the same goal, it motivates me. The people I work with feel like my family now.

>I wanted to stay in the Corps and make a career out of this, but I got an injury while participating in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. I put off going to medical for 7 months and tore my rotator cuff in the process, so I’m getting medically separated which will allow me time to fully recover from the injury.

>I’m trying to get my pilot’s license right now, but my shoulder makes it tough. They had to shave down part of my shoulder because of the injury. Tearing my rotator cuff caused muscles to crystalize there. It’s a little tough that I can’t do the things I want to, but I’ve learned that that’s apart of life.

>Life blindsides you every so often, but in the end it’s you who decides where you go. People say there isn’t a lot of time in the day to do things, but I disagree. I sleep two or three hours a day because there’s so much to do. There’s plenty of time in any given day, it’s all about prioritizing. Why should I sleep when hard work is going to get me farther in life?

>I work for a tire shop as well, called American Wheels and Tires. They’re located in Coalinga, Calif., so I make a six-hour drive each weekend. It’s nice to get out of Twentynine Palms, and I enjoy helping them with whatever they need to get done.

>When I get out of the Marine Corps, I’m going to do a number of things. I’m going to start by opening a tire shop and getting my realtor’s license. We have all the plans and funding saved to hit the ground running with the tire business, so I’ve started planning to make an edible arrangements shop that partners with glass blowing as well. It’ll specialize in chocolate covered strawberries. Personally, I don’t like strawberries, but they bring others joy.

>If I were to give advice, I would reference a speech given by a Navy Seal Admiral—Change the world by making your bed. Every morning, make your bed. If you start small with your accomplishments at the very beginning of your day, you’ll begin to see how quickly they add up. It all starts with an individual asking the question, “Why not me?”
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