Photo Information

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Cpl. Antonio A. Zugno, a rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, fields a question from one of the Brazilian Marines. Zugno, who was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, served as the battalion's translator while a group of Brazilian Marines from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, joined them during their two weeks of annual training. The reserve unit is based out of Milwaukee.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Adam Johnston

Translator breaks language barrier for U.S. and Brazilian Marines

14 Sep 2006 | Lance Cpl. Adam Johnston

When it comes to winning a war, even the best fighting force can’t do it alone. The Corps relies on a strong group of allies to support them in the ongoing fight against terrorism.

Translators like Cpl. Antonio A. Zugno, a rifleman with F Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, allow communication between the United States and its allies possible. 

Originally born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Zugno lived there off-and-on until settling down in Milwaukee at the age of 16.

Like 22 percent of his 180,000 fellow Marines, Zugno opted for the one weekend a month, two weeks a year plan. As part of their annual training, Zugno’s unit recently traveled here from Milwaukee.

Accompanying the U.S. Marines was a group of Brazilian Marines from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Considering Zugno’s native language is Portuguese, he proved to be the right man for the job.

“Working with the Brazilian Marines has given us an opportunity to see, first-hand, just how foreign military units do business,” Maj. Edward J. Rapisarda, the F Company inspector instructor, said. “Both sides can take what they’ve learned from one another and use it to improve their day-to-day operations.”

In September 2004, Zugno deployed to Iraq in support of the Global War on Terrorism. There, he found out what it’s like to overcome the language barrier while working directly with members of the Iraqi National Guard.

“Like the Iraqis, these Brazilian Marines are passionate about what they do,” he said. “They’re ready to learn from and train with their U.S. counterparts.”

With 60 percent of the world’s largest rainforest located in Brazil, its Marines clearly had no need for jungle warfare training. Therefore, the instructors placed a strong emphasis on urban environment training throughout the entire evolution.

“Both units went through the Enhanced Marksmanship Program, practiced patrolling techniques and covered convoy procedures,” Zugno said. “But the majority of guys I talked to enjoyed (simunition)-round training at the (military operations in urban terrain) facility the most.”

Zugno, knowing some of the Brazilian Marines had played paintball before, explained that like paintballs, sim-rounds are non-lethal. A detergent-based color compound is packed into a 9 mm cartridge, which can be fired from a modified M16A2 service rifle. It’s as real as it gets without actually being in combat.

According to 2nd Lt. Adelton F. Dias, a platoon commander with the Amphibious Division of the Brazilian Marine Corps, the sim-round training was great preparation for their upcoming peacekeeping missions in Haiti.

“We’ve learned a lot from the U.S. Marines during these past two weeks,” Dias said. “They’re all very professional and well disciplined.”

Zugno, a native of Brazil, was more than happy to facilitate communication between the two units. He knows their two weeks in the field were much more than just annual training.

“It’s important to maintain good relations with our allies,” Zugno said. “You never know when you’ll need to rely on their support in the future.”