MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Before the Marine Corps, Cpl. Alberto Perez III didn’t see a positive path ahead of him. Encouraged by a friend, he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps.
Three years later, the 22-year-old administrative specialist with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, from Burbank, Calif., has experienced more than he could ever dream of. In this interview he tells us how he’s now preparing for another journey as a newlywed and a soon-to-be father.
Q: What inspired you to enlist?
A: I graduated from high school and I didn’t see any career path or future I wanted to take. When I was in high school I had a friend named Javier Morena, who is a corporal now in the [infantry]. He talked to me a few times, “Hey you should join the Marine Corps.” So he convinced me and I talked to a recruiter. So I saw the Marine Corps as a stepping stone to guide me to my future and see where I could go from there.
Q: What made you want to become an administrative specialist?
A: I wanted to leave as soon as I could. The recruiters told me I could pick any other job I wanted, but I would have to wait maybe a year. So I took the first job that was there. I’ve enjoyed it ever since.
Q: What are some of the responsibilities in your job?
A: Some of them are MEU orders, things like Marines pay, or moving our Marines to where they need to go. We’re usually the last ones out of the [command post] because we want to get the job done. Mission accomplishment is one of the big things as an [administration section]. We know that our Marines need our help. So in order to do that we may need to stay an hour or two behind everyone else to ensure they are taken care of.
Q: How has your experience as an administrative specialist been?
A: It’s been a great experience. I’ve gotten the chance to deploy. The 15th MEU is my first duty station. I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel to places I never thought I would go to in my life.
Q: What are some of the pressures you face in your job?
A: Some of the stressors are keeping personnel accountability. Trying to help Marines in any situation that they’re in. Sometimes it’s about time management, where something is crucial, other times it’s just Marines relying on you to come through for them.
Q: What was your first date like?
A: We went to Disneyland for our first date. So it kind of caught me off guard. I never thought I would be on a date like that. She was pretty interesting, very quiet, so she kept me guessing through the whole day.
Q: What is it about her that made you fall for her?
A: Her personality; her drive. She’s not the type of person to give up on the spot. She’ll keep pushing herself and me at the same time. She’ll put others before herself, which is one of the big characteristics that she has that I love.
Q: Do you feel like she makes you a better Marine?
A: Yes, I do. The easy way to put it is her care and her love for me. Just because of the fact that when I get home I tell her, “Man, my day was stressful,” or “I didn’t know what to do that day,” and she just tells me the next day will be better. She says, “Just keep your head up and the next day will be better.”
Q: You two were married how long before you found out she was pregnant?
A: The day we found out, I think was two months into the marriage. It kind of caught me by surprise, because we got married in March and we found out at the end of April that she was pregnant.
Q: How did you feel when you got the news?
A: I’m still in shock. I’m excited, nervous, all these mixed emotions. It’s my first child, so I didn’t know what to expect.
Q: How did she feel about it?
A: She’s just excited about it. She’s not even nervous. It’s her first child, and at a loss for words at times.
Q: How do you deal with juggling your work, being married and prepping for the baby?
A: Communicate with her. It’s a very big thing in my family. If I didn’t communicate with her, or tell her how my day was, it brings a lot of friction.
Q: What’s the first thing you tell her when you come home?
A: The first thing I tell here is, “Babe, I missed you.” I give her a big hug and I don’t let go of her for a while just to show her how much I missed her.
Q: How have the preparations for your child been?
A: Saving money, buying things for the baby and getting the new room ready. Mentally, realizing it’s not just going to be us anymore. There’s going to be someone else now. I can’t put myself first anymore, I have to think of us and I put my family first. It doesn’t feel real. I never thought that at this age I would be a father.
Q: Has it been hard being newlywed and having a baby on the way?
A: There are stressors. We don’t always agree on everything. But we’re still in that newlywed phase and we’re very much in love with each other and I don’t think that will ever go away. Every time I go home it still feels like the first time I saw her or took her on that date.
Q: Do you feel like you had to grow up pretty quick?
A: As soon as I got married I did. A typical young man at 21 or 22, it’s their time to party and go out. Me being 22, I have extra responsibilities to take care of. I have to support my family and put a roof over their head.
Q: How do you feel you will react when the baby comes?
A: Excited. I think it’s going to be breath taking. As soon as I get to hold my child in my arms for the first time, I know I will cry.
Q: Do you feel like the Corps has prepared you to be a father and husband?
A: I would say the Marine Corps has made me who I am today. I was a bad kid in high school. I had no sense of urgency or responsibility. The Marine Corps has molded me to become a responsible young man and to have goals in life.
For the Warrior Wednesday video on Perez, visit our YouTube page at: http://youtu.be/PtJ6JFaqrhw