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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

3280 Russell Road, 2nd Floor Quantico, Va. 22134
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By Sgt. Sam Kille, USMCR | | April 13, 2001

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- Nearly 33,000 men and women take time out from their ordinary lives to serve at least one weekend per month and two weeks per year as members of the Marine Corps Reserve. For some, the reserves is a means to help pay for college. For others, it is a break from the daily grind of their civilian jobs.Regardless of what they do when not drilling, reservists proudly stand ready to answer their nation's call to duty during times of crisis. Yet knowing they could be called upon at any moment, risking the possibility of giving up a larger paycheck, why do they do it?For Sgt. Israel Colon Jr., a machine gunner with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, in Garden City, N.Y., the answer is simple."I'm not in it for the money," said Colon, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. "Being a Marine is something I enjoy and am proud to do."When Colon isn't sitting behind a gun, he is standing behind a podium -- teaching students at New York City Technical College in Brooklyn. Colon, who holds a doctorate in industrial education, teaches teachers to teach in the vocational and technical fields. He joined the Marine Corps Reserve in May of 1991 while attending Hudson Valley Community College in Albany, N.Y."I had always wanted to join the Marines, but I also wanted to go to school," Colon said. "The reserves allowed both."After earning his associate's degree, he worked as an electrician and did his monthly drills. Yet the constant uncertainty of employment prompted him to make a change. After speaking with his old professors at Hudson, he headed to the State University of New York in Oswego, N.Y., to pursue a bachelor's of science degree in vocational and technical education. Afterward, he taught residential and commercial wiring at Mexico BOCES, a vo-tech high school in Mexico, N.Y. From there he decided to further his education and attended graduate school at Iowa State. After working as an academic advisor at Iowa State and doing a year stint as a visiting professor at SUNY Oswego, Colon began teaching at NYC Tech in the fall of 1998. Juggling the responsibilities inherent with being a professor and Marine hasn't been completely easy, yet Colon loves both jobs. He also loves the reactions people have when they find out what he does."When civilians find out that I'm a machine gunner, they always raise an eyebrow, but I really enjoy the reserves," Colon said. "Because it is so different than teaching, it gives me a mental break."Lance Cpl. Cynthia A. Bermeo, an administration clerk with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Bn., 25th Marines, echoes many of Colon's thoughts on being a reservist."How many people get to do this, especially women," said Bermeo, who was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, N.Y. "After all, how many women have ever thrown a grenade!"When not making sure that the Marines of her unit get paid, Bermeo, who holds a bachelor's degree in sociology and family nutrition sciences from Queens College, N.Y., works as a caseworker at the Saratoga Family Inn, a homeless shelter in Jamaica, N.Y. She joined the reserves Oct. 7, 1996 after seeing how her brother, an active duty Marine, had changed for the better by being a Marine."He really became more serious," Bermeo said. "He was much more disciplined and responsible."Responsibility is one of the key reasons Bermeo feels that Marine Reservists are willing to serve."In the reserves you learn to be responsible," she said. "When you think about it, being a reservist takes a lot of commitment. You have to show up for drill each month. It takes discipline."That discipline, according to Bermeo, translates into the civilian world. Though she feels that she has always been focused in life, being a Marine has been helpful in the civilian world. She hopes to carry what she has learned into her future pursuits, which include attaining her master's degree in social work and becoming either a guidance counselor or social worker at a high school one day.Like Colon and Bermeo, thousands of reservists have found the means to juggle both worlds and the demands of each. They all come from many different walks of life yet the paths they follow all lead to the same destination -- pride, not only in belonging but also by being -- Marines.

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