CAMP RIPPER, Iraq --
Every enlisted Marine gets the opportunity to experience the triumph of graduating from recruit training. Afterwards, Marines go to their military occupational specialty schools, eventually transitioning to their permanent duty stations. All Marines remember their drill instructors, but rarely are they given the opportunity to work with their drill instructors or deploy with them.
“It was weird,” said Sgt. Jaime Osornio Jr., a radio operator with Regimental Combat Team 8’s communications section. “I found out I was coming to RCT-8 to deploy and when I checked in, I ran into Staff Sgt. Gonzalez. It was crazy to think I would be deploying with my senior drill instructor.”
Osornio met the man he now calls a role model, during the summer of 2005, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. As any other Marine, Osornio got the opportunity to learn from the Marines placed in charge of him. “He taught me a lot, without everything he did for me, I probably wouldn’t be close to being the Marine I am today,” said Osornio.
Staff Sgt Ysidro Gonzalez, platoon sergeant with RCT-8’s Personal Security Detail, says he has a distinct memory of Osornio as a recruit.
“I remember him really well. He was one of my overweight recruits, but that didn’t stop him from being a good recruit,” said Gonzalez. “He never gave up; he was always trying hard to improve himself.”
Osornio says Gonzalez’s dedication to him and his fellow recruits helped him stay focused. Osornio talked about one specific instance in recruit training that showed him Gonzalez’s dedication to his Marines.
“I was dealing with some family issues in boot camp and Staff Sgt. Gonzalez knew my brother; so he let him come and talk to me while we were at the rifle range. That showed me how much he cared about us and wanted us to be successful,” said Osornio.
Gonzalez said that he always instilled in his recruits, that as long as they didn’t give up on him, he would not give up on them.
Not only did Gonzalez motivate him to finish recruit training, he also passed on valuable knowledge to Osornio.
“My leadership is a reflection of his; he always talked to us about troop welfare so I try and make sure I look after my Marines,” said Osornio. “Everything he taught me helped through my first two deployments.”
Now that Osornio is deployed with his former drill instructor, he says he’s still learning from him. “He has great weapons knowledge as well as communications knowledge,” said Osornio. “He gives me a lot of information that helps me with my job.”
Outside of his job, Osornio says Gonzalez influences him. “Before I go over to see him, I have to make sure I’m squared away. My uniform has to look good and I make sure that I’m on top of my job,” said Osornio. “I don’t want him to feel like he failed me.”
Gonzalez says seeing Osornio progress in his Marine Corps career makes him very proud.
“It always feels good to see one of your recruits develop into a good Marine. It makes me feel like I did my part, and my words didn’t fall on deaf ears,” said Gonzalez.
Osornio says he will always consider Gonzalez a good mentor and role model to himself as well as other Marines.
For some Marines, completing recruit training will be the only opportunity they receive to make their drill instructors proud of the goal they’ve accomplished. Marines like Osornio, not only get the chance to show their drill instructors their progress that resulted from the discipline they learned in boot camp, but learn and grow with them in a combat environment.
For more information on the ongoing mission in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, visit http://www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/iimeffwd.