MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- Marines with 1st Tank Battalion joined 1st Sgt. Nelson A. Hidalgo, Company A First Sergeant, 1st Tanks, as he bid farewell to the Marine Corps after 20 years of service during his retirement ceremony at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field, Aug. 7, 2015.
“He is the definition of what every officer wants in a Marine,” said Maj. Dominique B. Neal, battalion executive officer, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. “It’s not just that he has my intent in mind as a commander but he has the Marines’ welfare in mind as well. When you have all those together in one facet, you get the total package of a Marine.”
Hidalgo began his service in the Marine Corps as a basic rifleman in 1995. Throughout his career, he has served as a guard instructor in Norway and Estonia, combat instructor at the School of Infantry in Camp Geiger, North Carolina, recruiting duty in Long Island, New York, and company first sergeant for Headquarters Battalion and 1st Tanks, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. Over the course of his career he was meritoriously promoted four times.
“I am extremely happy to have the privilege and honor to serve with him,” said Lt. Col. Lee M. Rush, commanding officer, 1st Tanks. “I wanted today to be special for him and his family. He was a senior leader of Marines who cared.”
Neal, the retiring officer for the ceremony, served alongside Hidalgo, the operations chief at the time, in 1st LAR for two consecutive deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“There’s no shine for glory or personal recognition; he does everything for the Marines,” Neal said.
Following his retirement, Hidalgo intends to focus on taking care of his family.
“We’re headed to New York and I have a job lined up as a human resources manager,” Hidalgo said. “The past twenty years have been focused on me and the Marine Corps; now it’s all about my family.”
Hidalgo left the Marines of 1st Tanks with one last piece of advice, reminding them to find time to enjoy their work.
“Don’t just go to work, have fun,” Hidalgo said. “Sometimes you forget to have fun. Certainly you cannot work hard for 20 years and be successful and not have fun.”
Looking back on his career, Hidalgo attributed his growth as a Marine to both the good times and the challenges he faced along the way.
“I truly believe all the deployments and time away from my family have made our family stronger,” Hidalgo said.