ENCINITAS, Calif. – Being a Marine means being a part of a legacy, especially when that person comes from a family with a proud history of military service, and even more so when that individual hopes to someday train future Marines.
It was a breezy Wednesday afternoon as Sgt. Michel A. Garcia was providing color guard for a ceremony honoring World War II veterans at a retirement community in Encinitas, Jan 20, 2016.
“It’s a great experience,” said Garcia. “I really appreciate honoring those who came before us.”
Garcia is a heavy equipment mechanic with 7th Engineer Support Battalion and has been a Marine for over eight years. Garcia began his military career before he even stepped on the famous yellow footprints.
“I’m a military brat,” Garcia said. “I always knew I was going to join the Marine Corps. Since day one I have wanted to be a Marine.”
Garcia’s family always had involvement with the military in one form or another. Aside from having several family members in the U.S. military, members of Garcia’s family have also served in another nation’s military.
“My uncle is in the Army,” said Garcia. “One of my cousins is also in the Army and another cousin is in the Air Force. Every male on my mother’s side of the family has been in the military to include the Guatemalan National Army, so I just knew I was going to join the armed forces.”
Garcia hails from Newport News, Virginia. He was an avid wrestler at Woodside high school and had planned on enlisting immediately following his graduation. Even with his aspirations of enlisting, some members of his family were not too keen on letting him join.
“I wanted to join the Marine Corps right after high school,” said Garcia. “But my mom convinced me to try the college route. I did the whole school thing and it really wasn’t for me. I even tried the nine-to-five routine.”
Garcia says the civilian life just wasn’t for him. The same old thing, day in and day out, had no appeal to him. The situation only grew worse when all of his friends started coming home from college.
“I’ll never forget,” he said. “All my friends were coming home from school with their degrees and every time I saw them the conversation eventually led to what I am up to these days.”
Garcia recollects how he was working at a grocery store and did not feel as if he had much of a future. Even the thought of moving up into management had no appeal to him. It just was not what he wanted to be doing with his life.
“I just said to myself: hey, I’m not getting any younger and enough is enough. I need to join the Marine Corps,” Garcia recalled.
It was at this point in his life that he finally decided to enlist. Garcia recalled the time he told his family members of his decision. They were sad to see him go but he said in the end, it was all worth it.
“My mom wasn’t too fond of it,” he laughed. “But once I graduated recruit training, I had never seen her so proud. She was just balling her eyes out.”
This April will be eight years since Garcia walked across the parade deck at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
“This is my second enlistment,” said Garcia. “And I definitely plan on enlisting for a third time. I want nothing more than to someday be a drill instructor. I want to make Marines.”
Garcia’s memories of recruit training are positive and he feels his drill instructors were the epitome of the Marine Corps. He said it takes a truly dedicated Marine to be able to train and make other Marines.
“Eight years later, I still remember all of my drill instructors’ names,” said Garcia. “They just made such a dramatic impact in my life and I someday want to be that person for somebody else.”
Being a drill instructor may be Garcia’s ultimate goal, but he feels blessed to be a part of the color guard.
“Getting to do color guard and the chance to meet a lot of veterans means the world to me. I feel like it shows respect to the Marines who came before us,” he said.
Garcia said he feels very proud of the things he has accomplished in the Marine Corps, but says that none of it would have been possible without the love and support of his wife, Chelsea.
“She’s my rock,” Garcia said with a smile. “Whenever I get out of line she makes sure to put me back in my place!”
When asked whether or not he and his wife plan on raising any future Marines of their own, Garcia just laughs and says, “We already have two kids, Rocky and Maya. They’re both Siberian huskies and they’re both a handful.”