Marine enlists twin sister, brother and fiance
By Sgt. Jonathan E. Agee
| | December 18, 2001
MARINE CORPS RECRUITING STATION SPRINGFIELD, Mass. --
She came to the Marine Corps' recruiting office in Springfield with the determination, courage and never-quit attitude that makes Marines. Since that time her lead-by-example demeanor has enabled her to enlist her brother, twin sister and fiancée into the Corps.
Private First Class Monica Y. Esteras-Velez, food specialist and Springfield native, turned joining the Marine Corps into a family affair.
Since enlisting on her 18 birthday, Monica has had an uphill challenge to become a Marine. But, through her struggle she has inspired, encouraged and demonstrated everything it takes to become a Marine.
Her struggle began before she ever entered the Marine Corps recruiting office. She had failed two courses during her senior year of high school and was therefore ineligible to become a Marine. To make matters worse, she was never much of an athlete and needed work to increase her overall physical conditioning.
Despite the seemingly difficult obstacles, her positive attitude allowed her to overcome. With the help of her recruiter, Staff Sgt. Richard N. Buer, she increased her physical conditioning and graduated high school during summer classes. "If it wasn't for the Marine Corps I wouldn't have gotten my diploma," said Monica.
The Monday after she graduated high school, she shipped off to recruit training, Parris Island, South Carolina. Just before her departure, her soon-to-be fiancé enlisted in the Marine Corps to be with the woman he loved.
"She is persistent," said Daniel Duval, Monica's fiancé. "I knew she was going to make it ... the way she trained she just wouldn't give up. She pushed herself as hard as she could."
While in recruit training, Monica found herself struggling harder than most of the other recruits because her physical conditioning was still not up to par. Nonetheless, she continued on with every ounce of energy she had.
"It comes from within," said Sgt. Pablo Suarez, Springfield Recruiter. "She went down there (Parris Island) with determination, she made a commitment to succeed and she never gave up."
Through letters to her family and fiancée, she told of her difficult times and stressed her desire to continue on to become a Marine. "I just wanted to go home," said Monica. "But my own motivation, my boyfriend, my mother and the people who said I couldn't do it kept me going."
Her letters inspired her brother to take an avid interest in the Marine Corps. "When she wants to do something she just goes ahead and does it," said Jose Esteras-Velez, Monica's brother. "If she could make it, I could make it. "(The decision) was going to help me prepare for the future. "
Halfway through recruit training, Monica received a letter informing her that her brother had enlisted into the Marine Corps. At the same time, Monica's twin sister Veronica Esteras-Velez was taking an interest in the Air Force, but continuing letters of Monica's achievements in recruit training swayed Veronica's decision to the Marines.
"I wanted to go into the Air Force, but since she (Monica) did this, I was like so can I," said Veronica. "The word I can't is no longer in my vocabulary."
"I had no idea she was going to do it," admitted Monica after receiving a letter that her sister had enlisted.
"She had more influence than me," said Buer. "It wasn't anything I did. The only thing I did was demand that she bring referrals and she did what was asked."
Recently, Monica returned to Springfield to spend the holidays with her family. Since her return she has tried to enlist one more member of the family but was unsuccessful. "My mother is really happy and proud, and if she could join she would," admits Monica. Unfortunately, Monica's mother missed the age deadline for acceptance into the Marine Corps by a couple of days.
After the holiday's Monica will go to Marine Combat Training in Camp Geiger North Carolina. Following MCT she will go to culinary school and eventually work as a food specialist in the Marine Corps. Although the no one can predict Monica's future in the Corps, it would not be unlikely to see her return to Springfield in a few years to work as a recruiter.