MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Sergeant John Margaritondo is 29 years old and has been in the Marine Corps since 2008. His six-foot-plus stature coupled with a stern, yet disarming, demeanor lends immediate credibility to his firm, but fair form of leadership. The rare and unique characteristics that distinguish Margaritondo as a person are a direct reflection of his successful Marine Corps career as an infantry machine gunner with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.
The average age of a Marine recruit is 19 years old, according to Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Yet, Margaritondo began his career at age 25. There was an immediate generational gap between him and his peers from the beginning of his enlistment. This gap proved to be a source of motivation for his advancement, rather than an obstacle.
“Whenever we had downtime during the day, I was always at the library doing (Marine Corps Institute courses),” the St. Petersburg, Fla., native explained. “I take advantage of the opportunities to advance myself.”
And it has shown – he was meritoriously promoted to every rank except lance corporal. He credits his success to not only his personal efforts toward being the best, but to the fact that he was at a different maturity level than his peers.
“Throughout my career, I listened to my superiors, commissioned officers, (staff noncommissioned officers) and my drill instructors,” he explained. “I just did whatever they asked of me and more. I always try to do more than the next guy because that will always distinguish you from the next guy.”
He deployed three times in his first enlistment in the Marine Corps, toured the world with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, provided relief to the citizens of Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010, and deployed to Afghanistan.
“Over the past four years, I’ve seen a good portion of the world. I’ve fed starving kids in third-world countries, and I have fought with some of the best men I’ll ever know in combat,” said Margaritondo.
Margaritondo’s ability and aptitude led to further responsibilities and yet further possibilities to continue distinguishing himself. He held the billet of the platoon sergeant for Weapons Platoon, Company K, a billet usually held by a seasoned gunnery sergeant, according to 1st Lt. Grant Hundley, Weapons Platoon commander.
“Sergeant Margaritondo was not only successfully holding a billet of platoon sergeant, but he was excelling at it,” Hundley said in testament to Margaritondo’s performance.
The Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee recently recognized Margaritondo as its Marine of the month for March 2012.
His young and distinguished career has been successful with the support of a loving wife of four years and two children. While he admits the constant demands of the Corps separate him from his family frequently, he draws support from his family and home-life.
“They don’t like it when I come home late or leave for periods of time, but they’re so supportive of me,” he added.
Margaritondo is considering the idea of furthering his career by seeking a commission as a Marine officer in the future through the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, but is still unsure. He has, however, decided to make the Marine Corps a career at this point.