Photo Information

Corporal John C. Curtis, a crew chief with Company E, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, kneels atop his amphibious assault vehicle aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 24, 2011. Curtis believes he opened doors of opportunity for himself and his family by enlisting in the Marine Corps.

Photo by U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jeff Drew

A Marine combines life experience with Corps values

1 Apr 2011 | Cpl. Jeff Drew

Balancing a family with the responsibilities of serving in the Marine Corps can, at times, pose challenges that can seem overwhelming. However, with determination, a strong will and confidence, any mission can become possible. 

The Marine Corps helps develop these qualities, but sometimes, a person joins the Corps with an inherent understanding of the skills needed to succeed.

“Everything (I knew) was poor, just straight poor,” said Cpl. Jose L. Cruz, the training noncommissioned officer for Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “There were murderers and drug dealers, and I didn’t want that for my family. I wanted to get my sisters out of that and I wanted to get them into school.”

Cruz may have had a difficult child hood, but he was able find new opportunities in the Marine Corps that he couldn’t have found as a civilian.

“I thought about a lot of things (before I joined the Corps),” said Cruz. “I thought about getting two jobs and quitting school. I’ve thought about a lot of different ways to get my family out. One day, on a bus ride home from work, I saw a Marine sergeant sitting across from me.  He used to live right down the block from me and we had gone to high school together. He told me how he took his family off the streets and I thought, ‘Wow – that’s the way to go.’”

Some Marines share stories similar to Cruz’s. 

“Shortage of money was the hardest thing to overcome,” said John C. Curtis, an amphibious assault vehicle crew chief with Company E, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “My mother and father were always working, so no one was around. Integrity was a big thing then, like it is now in the Marine Corps. Just keeping your money tight and focusing on financial management.”   

With the Marine Corps, Curtis was able to open doors of opportunity for himself and his family and plans to make the Corps his profession.      

These Marines took positive characteristics they developed during hard times while growing up and combined them with the values of the Marine Corps – this enabled them to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

“You have to be half family man and half Marine,” said Cruz.  “You made these choices and it’s something you have to balance. Not everyone can balance a family and a job at the same time without breaking, but Marines don’t break.”