MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – The Department of Defense
utilizes a wide array of data systems that are essential to mission
accomplishment and enable Marines to conduct successful defense of
our nation and its allies. Sgt. Xavier Velez has the responsibility
of running many of those systems.
The Terryville, Conn.,
native is a data systems specialist with 26th Marine Expeditionary
Unit (MEU). He's been in the Marine Corps over three years and loves
his occupation, working on computers, systems and their
U.S. Marine Sgt. Xavier Velez, a data
systems specialist with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), a
Terryville, Conn., native, maintains a network in the MEU's command
post, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. on Dec. 10, 2013.
Velez's contributions helped maintain the MEU's data capabilities
during their 2013 deployment which assisted in task completion and
mission success. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua W.
Velez said that while he was in college and struggling to
balance his school life and personal life he found himself
encumbered with the responsibilities of raising a child and
attending school. Velez finally opted to join the military
to improve his situation. He enlisted in the Marine Corps as
a data systems specialist.
Velez expressed his
passion for his job with a smile as he described how he
tinkered with computers as a child. His brown eyes stared
upward as he recalled the event, like he was traveling back
to his childhood in his mind.
“I've always loved computers,” said Velez.
“When I was a kid I used to take them apart and try to
figure them out. The thing I love about it is there's always
something new, there's always a challenge and something to
He has demonstrated his occupational
dedication and experience throughout his deployment with the
26th MEU, his skills and contribution to mission success
afforded him recognition in the form of the Navy and Marine
Corps Achievement Medal.
Sgt. Leonardo Avila, an
Ozark, Ala. Native and radio operator with the 26th MEU, is
one of Velez's mentors and closest friends. He was a
non-commissioned officer in charge of Velez when Velez first
entered the Marine Corps. They have continued their
friendship and provide one another support and advice.
Avila said from day one he recognized Velez's potential
because of his maturity, ability to take every
responsibility seriously and accomplish tasks efficiently.
“Velez always does what it takes to get the job done,”
said Avila. “Marines go to him for help, because they can
tell he's good at what he does.”
Velez is challenged
with various tasks that assist in keeping the 26th MEU's
computer and internet capabilities running, which enable
completion of various tasks that lead to mission
Avila said, “he works so hard because
he supports his son. He loves his son and always puts him
first before anything.”
Avila said he and Velez share
parenting advice with one another, and he admires Velez's
concern and sacrifice for his son and emulates that with his
“The hard part is I'm not there with
him,” said Velez. “He's back home with his mother in
Connecticut, and I wish I could be there for him more
Velez said the face-to-face time he's had
with his son is limited due to Velez's work schedule,
deployment and distance away from his son. This shows the
sacrifice Velez makes to be successful in his career, and,
in turn, to provide support for his son.
been to one of his birthdays and a couple of holidays, but
he knows I love him and he's starting to understand what I
do,” said Velez.
Velez said his son is starting to
understand why he is gone and how deployment works, helping
ease some of the difficulty of being geographically
“Velez is a good Marine and a really great
dad,” said Avila. “He really loves his son and I am really
proud of him as a leader. He's become more than just a
friend and fellow Marine, he's a brother to me, like he's
part of my family, and I'm really proud of what he's
Velez said he does not intend to
reenlist upon completion of his contract with the Marine
Corps, and instead pursue further work in the computer and
data systems fields. He plans to save the benefits of his GI
Bill to pay for his son's education.
Velez said, “I
want my son to be successful, and I want to do what I can to
make that happen.”
By USMC Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Brown
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