HADITHA, Al Anbar, Iraq -- History teachers instruct students on great battles of times past. But one teacher, who is also an infantryman with 3rd battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, is a part of history in the making.
Lance Cpl. Gilbert R. Miera, a 27-year-old Taos, N.M., native, left teaching in the classroom to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Miera is a 1996 graduate of Taos High School. After graduation he studied a variety of subjects and graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in university studies.
At this point in his life though, he realized he needed to accomplish another goal before he started teaching.
“I realized I wanted to be a Marine since I was a kid,” said Miera. “There is a heavy military presence in my family. But they wanted me to give college a try first. When I got out I decided to enlist before I got too old.”
He talked to a recruiter and asked to be a reservist. He was on his way to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, for recruit training by the end of the week.
“I wanted to be a reservist so I could be around the people I cared about,” Miera said. “I wanted to go to Officer Candidates School but I didn’t want to wait so long for those processes.”
When he completed his training and returned home, he began working at Villa Santa Maria, a private school in Albuquerque, N.M., were he taught geometry and 10th grade English literature.
“I had done some substituting and student teaching for awhile. This was to be my first full-time teaching assignment.”
Miera grew close to some of his students, but he has not kept in touch with them for professionalism reasons. Instead he concentrates on completing the mission with his fellow Marines from his hometown.
“I volunteered for this deployment because I wanted the chance to do my part with the Marines in my home unit, Meira said. “When we attached to the battalion, the missions became easier because we already knew each other’s tendencies. We all pull together in every effort.”
While Meira continues with his missions in Iraq, he also prepares himself for the future when he goes back to teaching.
“The best things I’m going to take away from this experience are leadership, discipline and organization,” Meira said. “When I get back I will resume teaching, but I also have plans to go back to college and earning a master’s degree.
“Because like I tell my class ‘the best way to show great leadership is taking your own advice,” Meira said.