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Pfc. Raul E. Casanova, warehouse clerk, Headquarters Battalion, native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, developed a passion for photography through his love of skateboarding. After the Marine Corps, he hopes to pursue photography professionally.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I’ve Learned: Raul E. Casanova

17 Jun 2015 | Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

I was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico. I’ve got three brothers, one step-brother, my mom and my step-dad.

I like to skateboard, play basketball and cook.

My mom taught me how to cook and I cook pretty much anything. Although it’s hard, I’ve tried to learn how to cook traditional Puerto Rican food.

I like the process of making a meal for yourself the way you like it.

I was about 5 years old when I started playing basketball. I used to play with my dad all the time, and as soon as I got older I played with my friends. Basketball is just something that me, my brothers and my friends grew up with.

I’ve been skateboarding since I was 8 years old. Before that my cousin got me into roller blading. My mom bought me a skateboard and after that it was paradise. I haven’t stopped skateboarding since.

I’ve competed in competitions before but to me there’s no difference from when I’m skate boarding recreationally. I might be competing for something but either way you just go out to have fun.

My favorite thing about skateboarding is trying to do a trick and not getting it right the first time. You get to love that feeling because it makes you better. When you fall you get up and you have that fire. There’s no feeling that compares to finally getting it right.

I used to take pictures and videos of my friends and I skateboarding. I got into photography when I started posting pictures on-line and they got recognized. That’s when I really developed a passion for it.

Let’s say you take a picture and then you don’t see it for a while. When you find it again it brings back memories. If you’re having a bad day and you see that memory it can brighten your mood.

I like having the ability to capture a moment in time.

I love Puerto Rico. I lived in Orlando, [Fla.], for a year when I was 12 but we moved back to Puerto Rico. There’s just something about being in your homeland with people you know that is comforting.

The thing about Puerto Rico is that people are closer with each other. There’s a lot of tradition and culture. Back home you might not know the person, but you still treat them like family.

Living out here, there is a different pace. Being in the Marine Corps has allowed me to meet different people and learn about different types of cultures.

I’m the oldest of all my brothers. The second oldest is 18, the middle child is 12 and my baby brother is a year old.

We’ve always been close. I’ve always tried to be close with my brothers because family is one of the most important things to me.

My younger brother and I were tight growing up, we always took care of each other. We used to build little castles around the television using sheets and furniture. We would sit and watch T.V. for hours and it got to the point where we knew which show was coming on right after the other.

The hardest part about being here is being away from them. I talk to my brothers every day.

I joined the Marine Corps because I was in need of a steady paycheck. I had a friend back in college who joined before I did. I told him that I was seriously considering joining the military and he suggested that I join the Marine Corps.

If I was going to join the military I wanted to be the best. I started to learn about Marines and what they represented and I wanted to embody that.

I’m proud to wear the Marine Corps uniform. I like what it represents. Not many people can claim the title.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms