TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Anthony Chiccino was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is part Italian, and worked a s cook in an Italian restaurant while trying to make living in New York.
I was just a kid growing up on the outskirts of Philadelphia. I never would have thought I would be where I am today. I had grand fathers who served in the Navy and the Army but I just wanted to go to school for criminal justice.
I lived in Philly for about 18 years of my life. It was all I knew for a while. I had never been to the west coast.
After I graduated high school I applied to a criminal justice college in New York City to study international criminal justice. I moved there as soon I got accepted.
I did go talk to a recruiter with one of my buddies after I graduated high school. He ended up enlisting and eventually leaving and I chose to go the school route.
It was the first time on my own. I was kind of taking a stab in the dark. I packed my stuff in my car and drove up there.
I have to admit there were some times where I was kind of nervous. It was a new city to me and New York isn't the easiest place to figure out.
I didn't have a steady place to stay. I also didn't have a job so I ended up applying to about 10 different places.
The first place I worked was a Greek restaurant. I was a chef for them. I had some cooking experience from back home but I learned a lot from working at that restaurant.
I ended up moving to an Italian restaurant and really enjoyed it. My dad is Italian so I have always been around Italian food.
Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies to do in my free time. I enjoy making food for people and especially eating it myself.
It has always been a thought in my head to make a career out of cooking but criminal justice always looked more appealing to me. It also helped that it was my major while I was going to college.
After getting a job and finally having a schedule in New York, I was able to get my own apartment. There were some days where I was staying in my car but it all worked out in my favor.
My friend came back from boot camp and I happened to be home visiting my family. They had a party for him and I remember seeing him in his dress blues and thinking, maybe I should have joined. He looked different.
Once I got back to New York I went to see a recruiter again so I could get more information.
I still didn't know if I wanted to join or not but eventually I was going to his office everyday and it just seemed more and more appealing.
He pointed me in the direction of Military Police because that was what I was studying in school. It looked like something I would enjoy so I chose it.
I wanted a job in homeland security or something along those lines and having a degree in criminal justice and a military police background looks pretty good.
Even if I didn't get a job in homeland security I could always make a career out of the Marine Corps, so it looked good in a lot of different aspects.
Now I am on the West Coast as a military policeman and I love it. I also just got accepted into the K9 school and I am leaving in January.
When I first got my orders to California I was excited. I had never been to the West Coast so it was something new again.
I was very excited when I flew into Palm Springs. Palm Trees everywhere, the sun was out, it was like paradise. I was expecting beaches to be all over the place. I had no idea what I was getting into. The more we drove I saw less palm trees and more sand.
I still enjoy it because it's something not many people get to experience. I have to admit it is very different compared to where I grew up though.
When I was growing up, I played a lot of football. I played for a club team in Philly and started when I was six years old.
It was kind of funny. One of my favorite coaches was a retired Marine. He was also a drill instructor. Looking back, now that I'm in the Marine Corps, I realize he would do things drill instructors did. Discipline was one of his biggest things he concentrated on.
Almost everything we did was Marine Corps related, even the way we counted. None of us had any idea, but it was effective.
I fell in love with the sport and so did my dad. He would never miss a practice or game. Eventually the coaches would just kind of make him an assistant because he would always be there.
I would say he is my hero. My dad has always backed me in any decision I have made. He still calls me every day to see how I am doing and to tell me how proud he is of me for how far I have come. It always helps to hear that someone is proud of you, especially someone like my father.
By USMC Lance Cpl. Alejandro Bedoya
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