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Sgt. Alejandro Bedoya, former public affairs chief, Headquarters Battalion, played division one soccer for Virginia Military Institute before joining the Marine Corps and currently has orders to Recruiting Station Oklahoma City as a marketing public affairs Marine.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I've Learned: Sgt. Alejandro Bedoya

2 Jun 2015 | Pfc. Levi Schultz Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

The two biggest things for me are family and where you’re from.

I was born in Asheville, N.C., and I grew up in, and never really left, Greenville, S.C. That’s where all my family is and always has been.

I’m proud of being from the United States and South Carolina.

My wife and son are the reason I get up in the morning and do what I do. They are my world and I always put them before myself.

I first met my wife when we were in kindergarten. Her mother has videos of her running around the house as a little girl saying she was Mrs. Bedoya.

We didn’t get married until I had been in the Marine Corps for five months.

I played soccer in South Carolina my whole life and ended up committing to playing division one soccer for the Virginia Military Institute.

I wanted to go the officer route but when I got to VMI, soccer became a job and it wasn’t for fun anymore. I still wanted to be a Marine though. I have friends and cousins who were Marines and I looked up to like heroes, so I decided to enlist.

Ultimately, that took me away from South Carolina but home is where you make it, and I hope to go back someday.

I had friends and family that had been Marines and filled me in on what to expect. Every day is a different challenge and you’re always learning something new.

You have guys to your left and right that will literally take a bullet for you. You don’t get that many places, even in other branches. Once I got in and saw these things first-hand I became addicted to it.

You can walk up to a person, find out he is a former Marine and you just click. You both earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.

My dad played professional soccer in Colombia. He moved to the United States in his early 20s to play. When I was born it was toward the end of his career so he lived through me.

We still have videos of me kicking a soccer ball from when I was two and three years old. My whole life I had a soccer ball at my foot and my dad was coaching me the whole way through.

Soccer’s not about the paycheck that you could potentially earn. My father taught me the passion behind it and that it’s an international sport with way more to it than just kicking a soccer ball into the back of a net. To this day I can’t get enough of it.

When my dad came to this country he didn’t have his citizenship. He had to work a lot just to put food on the table. I remember him working crazy hours just to get us a nice Christmas present.

My dad’s the type of person who would take his shirt of his back to give it to you. In my eyes that’s what a hero is. He was a huge inspiration to me and I’m doing my best to be half the father he was.

Soccer has taught me about the different types of cultures. Playing soccer in Twentynine Palms, I met a friend from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I had never met anyone from Africa and we became best friends. We were just passing the ball around and we started talking. Each culture is so different it’s amazing.

I’ve learned there is a lot more to the world than what is in my backyard. Learning about other cultures is unique because you’re taught to respect others and to learn about them before you assume.

In South Carolina, my family taught me to live off the land and if you need something to go and get it.

Anytime I get a chance to go back home I’m always out hunting, fishing and just creating memories.

It’s interesting to appreciate nature in both ways, for its beauty and for survival.

My job in the Marine Corps is a Combat Correspondent, basically a Marine Corps journalist. We take photos and write stories as well as anything to do with media or broadcasting.

Ever since I was a kid I wanted to become a [Marine Special Operations Command Operator] because I picture them as the ideal Marine. I saw MARSOC Marines as the top of the food chain.

I always wanted to be a Marines’ Marine who would make sure morale is high and still ensure the mission is accomplished.

I always wanted to be the guy who set the example and the person everyone could come to for an answer. My goal was to be the overachiever that’s hungry for whatever it is that’s next. In my first couple of years I was promoted to sergeant quickly doing what I was told and doing it correctly.

My advice to new Marines is to be hungry for experience and knowledge, not only as a Marine but as a person.

Everything I’ve done in the Marines has been great, and now I’m going out to Oklahoma City for a marketing public affairs job. I view it as another challenge to tackle and can’t wait to see what lies in store for me.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms