Hooah to Ooh Rah, former soldier works hard for Marine title
By Cpl. Ryan Smith
| | September 13, 2002
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
PFC Joey Villalpando III, graduating today with Platoon 2094, Co. H, waited a long time to earn the title of Marine. Going back to his teenage years he always wanted to become a Marine, but was deferred by his father, a retired gunnery sergeant.
"During the Gulf War, I wanted to join but was too young to go," said Villalpando, who hails from Dallas. After I graduated high school, my father wanted me to join the Army instead of the Marine Corps because he believed the Army was more college oriented.?
Villalpando, 28, joined the Army as an infantry soldier and over nine years made it to the rank of sergeant.
"I could have had any job in the Army, but I wanted to be there to defend my country," said Villalpando. "I am a very patriotic man and I appreciate what the United States stands for."
Villalpando said he never regretted joining the Army. After completing service on active duty he joined the Army National Guard.
"After September 11, the National Guard was called up to provide security at the airports," said Villalpando. "One night as I was getting off duty, I turned on the television in my hotel room and saw a documentary on Marine Corps boot camp and it excited me."
Villalpando said the thought of Marine Corps recruit training was always in the back of his mind.
"Since my father was a Marine I would watch him drill or go off to work in his uniform," said Villalpando. "I always wanted to be like him."
"I never wanted to get old and regret not accomplishing every goal I had," added Villalpando. "I decided that I would do it while I am still young, single, motivated and able."
Villalpando soon found himself in a Marine recruiter's office and then on a plane to San Diego. He got off the bus and proceeded to the yellow footprints.
"When I arrived on the yellow footprints my first thought was 'this is where my father stood,'" said Villalpando. "Then I said to myself, 'here I go again.'"
Going into training, Villalpando had an open mind about things. Being prior service he would attempt to help out the other recruits and give them a heads up on some things.
"Having been a former soldier, he is older and more mature and understands what to expect," said Sgt. Jorge J. Diaz, drill instructor for Platoon 2094.
"I felt pretty much like an older brother," said Villalpando. "I am not here to baby-sit though, I am here for the training and the title."
"He has been one of the stronger leaders in the platoon," said Staff Sgt. Robert Cebina, senior drill instructor of Platoon 2094. "He has helped instill some military structure into the recruits."
Villalpando also says the training differs greatly from the Army to the Marine Corps.
"Marine Corps boot camp was mentally and physically very different from the Army," said Villalpando. "Here you use your head a lot more. During the Crucible, you have to prepare a plan of attack for every obstacle when you arrive and try to accomplish every mission as well as you can no matter what."
"I'll always remember how different the training was coming from the Army, that focuses on individual achievement, to the Marine Corps, where platoon or company effort is needed to help you come out on top," said Villalpando.
Although the training has been tough, he and his fellow graduates stand prepared for what the Marine Corps throws at them.
"I realize switching services cost me a lot of rank and money," said Villalpando, "but it is not about that. It is actually about being a part of the force responsible for defending our country, the United States Marine Corps."