MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
In his senior year of high school, Sgt. Sigilfredo Garcia had the rest of his life ahead of him and many paths to choose from. At the crossroads of his life, a time when most youth are unsure of which direction to head, Garcia was certain of two things; he wanted to be a Marine and work with his hands.
Having only fired a weapon once in his life, he was filled with mixed emotions of excitement and nervousness about being a small-arms technician. He soon developed a passion for weapons and now takes great pleasure knowing that with his craftsmanship, Marines are able to do their job without having to worry about their weapons.
In this interview he takes us through how his job has become his passion.
Q: What inspired you to join the Marine Corps?
A: I was thinking about joining the Marine Corps in high school, so I pretty much walked into the recruiter’s office and said I want to join. It wasn’t really a big deal for me. I liked the structure and discipline that came with it so it was an easy decision.
Q: Did you choose to be a small-arms technician?
A: I came in open contract for mechanics, so I just wanted to be a mechanic and work with my hands. Put things together, take them apart and fix them. I just happened to get small-arms technician.
Q: How did you feel when you first heard you were going to be a small-arms technician?
A: When I went to boot camp it was probably the second time I’d ever shot a gun, but after that I loved it. I don’t look back at it. I love working with guns and that’s my passion.
Q: How many weapons are you in charge of?
A: Altogether, we have about 700. We have M16A4 [service rifles], M4 carbines, M9 pistols, M240B [machine guns], M249 [squad automatic weapons], [M2 .50-caliber Browning machine guns], shotguns and MK19 [grenade launchers].
Q: What’s your favorite weapon?
A: It would probably be [Armalite Rifles]. Not to be cliché, but they’re fun to work with, to customize and to build the way you want them.
Q: How do you feel when you get your hands on an AR?
A: I feel like I’m doing my job. I don’t want to say I’m making a difference because that’s what I’m here to do. I feel like I have a purpose.
Q: What drives your passion?
A: The goal is for [Marines] to use their weapon when they need it. That’s why you work so hard, for them to not have a doubt about their weapon when the time comes. To know that, ‘My armorer Sgt. Garcia he’s good, so I know my weapon’s good. If I ever have any issues I can come to him and right there on the spot he can fix it.’
Q: What’s the hardest part about your job?
A: Just a lot of procedures you have to follow because you’re working with weapons and ammo. There is pressure, but if you know your job, then you’re confident and you have nothing to worry about.
Q: You said you love the discipline aspect of the Corps. Does it take discipline to work with these weapons?
A: Yes, just because there is so many security procedures. You have to make sure you’re following those steps every day. You can’t just say, ‘Well today I won’t wear a pistol or today I’ll just leave the keys lying around.’ You have to have that discipline to follow those steps and rules.
Q: Were you taught discipline from an early age or was it something you learned in the Corps?
A: I was raised on discipline. [My family’s] work ethic is really high. Coming up north as migrant workers [my parents] worked hard. You see them and how hard they’ve worked to put you through school or whatever; you want to work harder than they do because life isn’t as hard as theirs was. So that’s where my discipline comes from.
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