CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq -- When Cpl. Cesar Vera joined the Marine Corps out of Compton, Calif., he was glad to find out he’d become a heavy machine operator – but little did he know he’d be wearing more than just a hardhat.
Vera, a 21-year-old with the 2nd Marine Division Headquarters Battalion wears many hats – to include being in charge of the supply warehouse, working on diesel generators and communications gear. But it always comes down to just being a Marine.
“Being a noncommissioned officer you never know when you’re going to fill another job,” said the 2002 Compton High School graduate. “I try to keep myself occupied. If I’m not down here (the supply warehouse), I’m probably out moving around gear or sand with the front end loader.”
The battalion’s logistics section chose Vera because of his aptitude to accomplish myriad tasks. The direct product of that leads to other sections getting their supplies faster and more efficiently in order to accomplish the mission.
“Working in the supply section is good because I’ve gotten to help a lot of people and I’ve made a lot of connections,” said Vera. “But being a combat engineer is the best job because I get to build and break things.”
Originally Vera asked his recruiter for a job as a communicator with the Marines, either as a field radio operator or a wireman. But he didn’t pass his color test in the eye exam so he got his second choice to operate heavy machinery. Now, he’s gaining experience not only in his field of work, but in other aspects of logistics that will build his resume.
“I have no regrets,” said Vera, “It’s a pretty rewarding job. Without us, stuff wouldn’t get moved around.”
This isn’t Vera’s first time serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was here last year with Combat Logistics Bn. 8 as a combat engineer. This time around, he’s rounding out his experience as he’s traveled to Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad, Taqqadum, Al Asad and the Hadithah Dam.
“When I joined I wanted something challenging and this is it,” said Vera. “The cool thing about it is that every time I go back home my family asks me all kinds of questions about what it’s like to be a Marine.”
Vera actually inspired his cousin and brother to join the Marines as well. His father was in the Mexican Army before he immigrated and he remembered hearing stories about a soldier’s life while growing up. But now he has stories of his own.
His plans are to either re-enlist and continue his professional education in the corporal’s course or maybe join the local sheriff’s department and stay on as a Reserve Marine. Either way, Vera has gained some clout with his brothers and sisters in the Corps and with his family back home.
“I may not be the only serviceman in my family, but I’m the first war veteran . . . not that I wanted to be, but I am,” said Vera. “This life is challenging and I plan to take it by the horns.”