MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The Marine Corps has taught me that I am very capable of overcoming adversity at any level. It’s also taught me that I’m grateful my mother raised me to be a better person than some individuals I’ve come across.
Momo and Popo are my grandparents. When my brother was a kid, he couldn’t say grandpa and grandma. I guess it runs in the family because I couldn’t say his name, Javier, just Javi. Anyways, the nicknames stuck eventually. Everyone either calls them that or by their first names, Julia and Pedro.
Ted is the greatest stuffed animal I know. I’m pretty sure he could schmooze his way into any home and be a perfect addition. He was made by my great grandma when I was born. That little thing has been through some interesting experiences.
I started playing hockey at a young age. I remember buying skates before buying shoes. It’s always been around.
I lost a tooth from crashing a motorcycle after saving a woman from a burning building. Women love the dangerous side. Ok, that’s not true. I lost two teeth and a lot of the feeling in my tongue because I took a puck to the face.
My doctor, Lt. Green, was honest with me. He said I couldn’t get a gold tooth because I was a Red Wings fan. I think I ruined playoffs for him by getting my teeth knocked out but oh well, Blackhawks won anyway. I had an awesome doctor fix me up from start to finish. He was a great guy.
I’d have to say the most memorable part of playing hockey out here was just skating with guys of different ranks and ages from the base, just being able to go skate and compete, win. Those guys are great and made my last year even better.
I’ll never tell anyone about my Joshua Tree National Park secrets. I’ve explored them and so should everyone else. My favorite spot though, is what I call ‘The Swimming Pool.’
I’ll remember the burning sunsets and the cold winters, probably because that’s what makes the desert so unique.
The nights are always clear enough to see the stars. I’ll miss the weather. Humidity is a real thing in the Midwest. Yes, really. Nebraska is home. Shout out to my 402 Marines.
In all reality, my career wouldn’t have been the same without the people I worked with. From the top to the bottom, everyone’s taught me a thing or two.
If we’re talking idols, mine is my brother Javier Rodriguez. He’s taught me so much about life and living. This onetime he said, ‘Don’t ever regret anything because you’ll never learn your limits.’ Plus he made me watch a ton of mafia movies growing up. Talk about family.
All through high school, I wondered what my brother did as a grunt in Iraq during his three deployments. When I joined, I chose this job because I wanted to be able to tell that story for other people so they would know what their kid was up to and have some peace-of-mind.
My favorites have always been infantry stories. These guys do so much and have such interesting things to tell. I’m grateful to tell their story, whatever it may be.
The best interview I’ve had was with Col. Kennedy before he took over at TTECG. That man knows so much about the Corps.
The scariest thing that has ever happened to me in the Corps lasted a good 45 minutes. We were following a convoy to a range while they were blacked out using night vision. There we were, in a GOV, following a vehicle when it just disappeared; not even a dust cloud was visible. After that, I booked it to where I knew they were going. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, I don’t know.
I had a beer with the sergeant major of the Marine Corps. That’s the best moment I’ve had in the Corps, hands down.
Physically, my job has taken me through a lot of great training opportunities that Marines endure. Mentally, I’ve grown as a person and as a writer. I’m right on track for what I’ve wanted to learn in the past four years.
There’s really no reason why I never wore a skivvie shirt. My cammies were soft and comfortable. Plus, nobody really says anything to a Marine with long hair and no skivvie.
I’d rather be known for being a well-rounded individual. Maybe individualism is my biggest trait.
I’ll tell people exactly what I’ve been through; lots of hard work, long hours and awful people. Consequently, I’ve also met some of the greatest people in my life but I know I worked too much for somebody else and now I’ve learned I need to work for my own happiness.
I think I got a jump start on experience from the Marine Corps. I can see that most individuals my age have barely graduated, which is good for them, but they lack experience. The Corps definitely throws challenges at you.
Right now, my major is Mass Communication, which is basically journalism. I like the job and I’m going to be a junior soon. With the right schooling, hopefully I can teach high school kids about creative writing and journalism.
The 10-year question is a trap. I wouldn’t be happy if I knew for a fact where I’d be. All I need right now is someone to learn a different language with me and want to explore themselves and the world for a bit. I like to be settled in segments of my life, for now.