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Gunnery Sgt. Antonio Soto, company gunnery sergeant, Company B, Communication Training Battalion, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, has been in the Marine Corps for 17 years and he has participated in nearly 20 volunteer events in the local community. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I’ve Learned: Antonio Soto

5 May 2016 | Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

I’m from San Sebastián, Puerto Rico. I grew up with all of my siblings around so that sense of family was always there. It wasn’t just my mom, my sister and my dad. There were also all my cousins. We went to the same school so we were always together.

One of my cousins was in the medical field when he was in the military and then he became an officer. He was doing very well for himself and he was someone I wanted to emulate. I thought, “Wow I like how he’s living his life.”

My first time in the United States was during basic training at Parris Island, [S.C.].

I honestly didn’t know much about the Marine Corps. I was actually going to join . I had all my paperwork ready, I was just waiting on a date to go to basic training.

A buddy of mine was joining the Marine Corps. He told me a little bit about it and the recruiter sold me on it. I admired the professionalism he displayed and what he stood for. After speaking to him, I knew I wanted to be a Marine. So I grabbed my paperwork from the other branch and gave them to the Marine recruiter.

I’ve been in the Corps for 17 years. At first, I didn’t think I was going to make it a career. I just took it four years at a time.

As soon as I graduated boot camp, I wanted to be a drill instructor.

Staff Sgt. Nicholson was my drill instructor. He was only with us until initial drill, but everything he did as a Marine; the way he conducted drill, the way he presented himself, his demeanor, had an impression on me. I wanted to do what he did.

I was a drill instructor for three years. What I enjoyed most about my time on the drill field was the sense of accomplishment. When you see the recruits maintain the discipline that you instilled in them from day one, it’s a great feeling. Then they graduate and you see the end result of how appreciative they are of how hard you were on them in the beginning.

Out all of the duty stations I’ve been to, Japan had the most lasting impact on me. When I was there, communication with your family and friends wasn’t as accessible. The sense of unity in the people I met while I was over there was a lot stronger. It was almost as if we were our own little family.

If I am able to help others, I am willing to do it. I’ve volunteered at horse ranches, golf tournaments and tennis matches.

I like to show the Marines that there is more to do than just sit around their barracks. You just have to seek the opportunities.

I think it’s a person’s attitude toward things that determines how successful they become. Anywhere you go, you have to make the best of it.

During a lot of volunteer events, the Marines have only a small understanding of what they’re about to do, but they realize they have the responsibility of representing the Marine Corps on a huge platform. The sense of duty and pride that comes with that resonates with them.

I always tell the Marines to help one another. Instead of beating each other down, they should take pride in uplifting the people to the left and right of them.

When I leave the Corps, I think I’ll take my work ethic with me. Marines don’t stop until the mission is done. The sense of responsibility, urgency and knowing you have to meet mission is something that won’t ever leave me.
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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms