HUSAYBAH, Iraq -- As a child, he watched as armed men entered his house and robbed his family, knowing that there would be no reprimand for their actions.
This was an ordinary occurrence where Cpl. Cesar A. Gil lived in Cali, Columbia, South America, but that day he made a decision to one day fight bad guys like that.
Today, as he works as a light armored vehicle mechanic with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, he gets that chance to help people who are in the same position as he was.
“When I see the kids and know that terrorists are out there, it reminds me of myself when I was young and it makes me mad,” said Gil, now a Houston native. “It reassures me of the reason why I am here, and I will do my best to help those like I wanted to be helped when I was younger.”
Gil’s family moved to the America in 1998 and during the summer, he learned how to speak English from the neighborhood children and quickly adjusted to the new culture and people he was exposed to.
When he got his residency in 2002, he took the first steps toward achieving his childhood dream by becoming a Marine.
“I wanted to be someone that everyone looked up to, to be a hero to a country that helped me so much,” the 2003 Kempner High School graduate said. “My heart was telling me to become a United States Marine.”
Gil described himself as becoming a better person after joining the Marine Corps. He saw it as the ultimate opportunity to help those in need.
“Many people take their liberties for granted. I do not because I know what I have to lose and see it when I see these people,” he said. “Even when people are complaining about the military, they don’t understand how it would be if we weren’t there to protect their freedoms.”
Gil, whose family has no military tradition, holds him in the highest regard and he proudly admits his patriotism for his adopted country.
“I look at it as having a wife (America) and a mother (Columbia). While I love my mother, I will always be there if she needed me, but it’s my responsibility to take care of my wife and look out for my brothers (the Marines),” Gil said. “It’s an honor to be a Marine and an American citizen and I would do whatever it takes to defend them both.”