CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
Born in Mexico, a motor transport operator from 2nd Platoon, General Support Motor Transport Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 15 (Forward), 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), did not grow up with much, but when he moved to the United States his life took a turn to the brighter side; and now he is happy to have a chance to give back to the country he now calls home.
Cpl. Miguel A. SanchezPerez, 21, originally from Coroneo Mexico, is a Marine who works hard to accomplish the mission, because he is so thankful for the second chance the United States has given him. SanchezPerez remembers growing up in Mexico was difficult for him and his family.
“Life in Mexico was hard because my father had papers so he would go to the United States to work for about six months at a time,” said SanchezPerez. “We only saw our father every now and then. Unlike others, we had food on the table, but we missed out on him.”
When SanchezPerez was 11, he migrated with his family to Searcy, Ark., in search of a better life.
“Crossing over the border was hard,” said SanchezPerez. “It took us three days and two nights on nothing but crackers and water. If we saw a field with crops we would grab some to take with us.”
When he got to his new home, SanchezPerez did not know how to communicate with many neighbors, because he did not know English.
“I had family born in the U.S.,” said SanchezPerez. “Little by little, my cousins would teach me English. It was hard at first, but once you start to get the hang of it you don’t even realize when you’re learning.”
Soon after arriving in Arkansas, SanchezPerez started going to school while he was still learning English.
“I started school in fifth grade and I barely knew anything,” said SanchezPerez, “I had to learn everything from scratch.”
SanchezPerez had to learn things quickly to keep up with his peers. His mentors see that in him today when they only have to tell him something once.
“If he doesn’t know something, he will tell you,” said Staff Sgt. Jermarcus L. Tate, the platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, GSMT Company, CLR-15 (FWD), 1st MLG (FWD). “Show him once, and you don’t need to show him again; he learns the first time.”
After settling down in Arkansas, SanchezPerez visited his extended family members in Mexico.
“I went to visit my family back in Mexico, and I saw the huge differences in our lives,” said SanchezPerez. “The way I saw it, I was much better off in the States.”
After high school, SanchezPerez joined the Marine Corps as a way of showing gratitude to the country that has given him so much.
“He feels the Marine Corps is a way to give back to the country that gave him a second chance,” said Tate, 29, from Mobile, Ala.
Soon before deploying to Afghanistan, SanchezPerez gained his citizenship. He is the first person in his family to become a U.S. citizen, and the first in his family to join the military. As a motor transport operator, SanchezPerez is responsible for driving vehicles and bringing logistics support to Marines in need of resupply.
“I’m glad to be in Afghanistan fighting for everything America has given me,” said SanchezPerez. “Out here, it is great. I’m helping as much as I can, and I’m learning things as well as teaching things to other people.”
SanchezPerez grew up in tough conditions, and it helps him stay comfortable in Afghanistan.
“He’s an awesome Marine,” said Tate. “He believes in mission accomplishment before his own well-being. I wish there were more Marines like him.”