MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDELTON, Calif. --
In 2010, Cpl. Jose W. Delgado was looking for direction in life. Knowing only that he wanted a challenge, he turned to the few and the proud for structure and purpose.
Joining the Corps was a decision that has given the 21-year-old from Shirley, N.Y., a sense of belonging, thirst for excellence, and a drive to continue to push the boundaries of what he can achieve.
In this interview Delgado, a squad leader with Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, tells us how the bonds of brotherhood in the infantry community inspire him to accomplish the mission every day.
Q: What inspired you to enlist in the Marine Corps?
A: Mostly because I didn’t want to go to school. I had a set plan in my head since I was a sophomore. I just never felt like school was for me, so I knew I’d join the Marines.
Q: Why did you want to be in the infantry?
A: If I was going to do something, then I was going to join not only the best branch, but have the best job in the Marine Corps.
Q: You’ve been doing this for a few years now, why have you chosen to stick with it?
A: Mostly because I love what I do. I like this. I like being out in the field, and I like seeing the end product. This isn’t my first squad, so seeing what I get in the beginning from [School of Infantry]. I train them up through pre-workups, training for deployment, and then on deployment. After we’re done, I get to look back and see what they’re like compared to what they were before I first got them.
Q: How has the infantry made you better?
A: My mindset has definitely changed. Although I was put into leadership billets when I first came in, I wasn’t as mature back then. So having this job has sculpted me in being more of a man, and led me to where I’m at right now.
Q: What does it feel like to be a squad leader?
A: It’s something that I continue to work for. It’s not like you get it and you’re done. You have to be mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come with it. When you’re out there I’m the one reporting to higher what’s going on, while making sure my guys are doing their job. Some can handle it, some can’t. It’s not for everyone.
Q: What is one thing you always stress to your Marines?
A: This might sound a little corny, but I’d say mission accomplishment.
Q: How do you get your Marines to respond to your method of leadership?
A: I keep a tight brotherhood with my guys. You have to know them and adapt my teaching method to how they respond to learning. Some guys are visual learners and I have to show them using another fire team, or go and do some practical application until they get it. Others, it’s not so easy, but you have to find a way to get through to them, and you can only do that if you know them.
Q: What makes your platoon different from the rest of Lima Company?
A: We’re the best platoon out here. This platoon is locked on. In the field, we know when something needs to get done. When we get a mission, we prep pretty hard for it.
Q: Why is your squad’s brotherhood so tight?
A: I try to keep a real tight brotherhood within my squad. Obviously separating work from play, but I like to joke around with them when we’re not working. Let them have some fun, but they know when it’s time to get to business. I rely heavily on my team leaders to get things done. They make my life easier, and I return the favor when I can.
Q: What motivates you to come out here and be better then you were yesterday?
A: Seeing that end product. I’m not going to be here much longer. I have to make sure that when they deploy, which is going to be without me, they’re ready for it, and can go out there and fight the fight.
Q: What’s the next chapter in your journey?
A: I’m submitting a package for [Marine Special Operations Command]. I have a lot of friends that have chosen to go down that route. I want to keep pushing myself and see how far I can go.
Q: What kind of advice would you give to someone looking to join the infantry?
A: Be humble and be able to accept your mistakes.
For the Warrior Wednesday video on Delgado, visit our YouTube page at: http://youtu.be/NgzJNCShnjw