MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. - A young boy visits his aunt. As he enters the home, he heads to his favorite place-- his cousin's room. He opens the door, and immediately his eyes are drawn to a crimson flag emblazoned with an eagle perched atop a globe with an anchor. A row of dangling, shining medals lie right below the flag.
His cousin, Douglas Garcia, got out of the Marine Corps after six years serving as a radio operator, who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The young boy was always drawn to his cousin's non-commissioned officer sword hanging right above his cousin's bed frame. The young boy dreams about having a sword just like it of his own one day.
"At that moment, I knew I was going to join the military," said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Antonio P. Carcedo, a motor vehicle operator with The Basic School's Motor Transportation Company at Camp Barrett, Quantico, Va.
Carcedo, a native of Pico Rivera, Calif., did not know the meaning of such a sword as a child, but he knew it had something to do with the Marine Corps, which fueled his interest in the military.
From kindergarten to 8th grade, he enrolled in a private school alongside his sister. This private school was prominently attended by Caucasian children and he was constantly picked on because he was Hispanic.
"I was always shy about turning in my homework and them judging my work," said Carcedo. "I always thought that they were judging me, that I didn't know anything, so I didn't turn any of my work in, and that followed me into high school."
He then attended California High School, and was a part of the culinary academia program. This program allowed him to do internships at four different job sites for job experience.
After graduating, he was working the graveyard shift at Walmart. He made omelets and pancakes for his family one morning after work. His father and sister left for the day after they finished eating. He decided to tell his mother first about joining the Marine Corps, and once he did, she burst into tears.
"I told her that it was a decision that I had to make for the better of me. I'm going, to be honest I wasn't the perfect child," Carcedo said. "I was considered the black sheep of the family. She was happy that I was finally coming out of my shell but sad that I was leaving.
"I wanted to prove the people who said I couldn't make it into the Marine Corps wrong."
His first encounter with a Marine Corps recruiter was when he walked into the Montebello recruiting station. His relationship with his recruiter, Gunnery Sgt. Michael McMillian was a relatively quick one since he was in the delayed entry program less than two months.
"I didn't do any research beforehand; I wanted to go in blind," said Carcedo. "Which kind of worked in my favor, making it more intense for me."
Carcedo was shipped to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. on March 27th, 2019.
After recruit training and his ten-day leave to assist his recruiters, he traveled to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. for Military Combat Training. Carcedo trained in traditional combat strategies skills for non-infantry Marines. After his 29 day course, he transferred to his mos school at Fort Leonard Wood, Miss. for the motor vehicle operator's course.
"Military occupational school was a culture shock," said Carcedo. "Everyone was a lot more laid back than what I was used to."
He was there for three months. Carcedo recalls not expecting the reality of how serious his career in the Marine Corps would be once he went to his occupational school. After graduating MTO course, he finally received his orders to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
"I had to learn how to quickly get out of my comfort zone and fully support the mission of my unit," said Carcedo.
His unit is responsible for supporting Marine Security Guard training, weapons training battalion, the training of second lieutenants at their six-month course at The Basic School and Infantry Officers Course. In IOC, Carcedo has the opportunity to go to Marine Corps Base 29 Palms for a field operation for two weeks.
"He's knowledgeable in his billet, hardworking, and always asking questions," said Cpl. Tommy Tran, motor vehicle operator.
He eventually earned a billet, which made him account for all equipment for the vehicles his company operated. This newfound responsibility presented the opportunity for him to pursue becoming a combat marksmanship coach.
"I didn't know what a coach was or what it entailed, but it became a choice I would have regretted had I not said anything," said Carcedo.
As a coach, Carcedo regularly volunteers to go to the range to coach both hundreds of active duty Marines serving on Quantico and the student officers of Officer Candidate School. He has received multiple letters of appreciation from lieutenants he coached, who earned their expert marksmanship badges. This emblem denotes a Marine achieved a high qualifying score on the rifle range, an annual requirement for Marines.
Carcedo teaches Marines how to fix any deficiencies in their marksmanship and how to become more proficient weapon handlers. His end goal as a coach is to become a block noncommissioned officer. The responsibility of a block help lead a group of coaches while conducting range operations along with providing the coaches guidance on how to correct their shooters deficiencies.
Carcedo has to balance teaching as a coach and responsibilities back at the motor pool. He is currently working on earning the rank of Corporal by the end of the year. After that, he hopes to get orders to Okinawa, Japan, to experience and gain the opportunity to see his job outside a training environment.
"I got to meet so many different types of people, and it has been a great experience in the Marines," said Carcedo.