Two months after graduating high school in 2015 while Raphael Martinez Bobek was working in a candy shop in California, he found a calling to join the Marine Corps after having a conversation with a Marine who just graduated from recruit training. Determined to enlist, he reached out to recruiters as far away as Salt Lake City looking for the quickest opportunity to start his journey to become a United States Marine.
“I thought to myself, if I have to move to another state to join the Marine Corps, then I'll do it,” said Bobek. “I bought a Greyhound bus ticket; I left everything I had, and I moved to Utah.”
Eighteen years old at the time and with no place to call home, no family to lean on and only a part-time job, the unwavering adolescent slept at Greyhound bus station he arrived at for over six weeks.
Pvt. Raphael Martinez Bobek, a Marine with 2nd Battalion, Hotel Company, Platoon 2173, with family and friends aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California after graduating from recruit training April 8, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mark Adams)
“Somehow, someway I ended up living at the bus station for a month and a half,” said Bobek. “I still had a job, I worked hard and I ate out of a vending machine all while trying to enlist.”
The recruiters from Recruiting Substation Salt Lake City East saw how devoted Bobek was to making his dream of becoming a Marine a reality, and they were ready to help him overcome any obstacles in his way.
“He didn't have a steady place to stay, and we did whatever we could to help him out,” said Staff Sgt. Francisco Guerra, his recruiter, Recruiting Substation Salt Lake City East.
The future Marine was ready to take on the challenge of recruit training as soon as possible. After completing all of the necessary requirements for enlistment, and with the help of his recruiters, he was sworn into the United States Marine Corps and left for recruit training two days later.
“What we do as Marines is look after each other,” said Guerra. “Bobek was qualified, we could tell this is what he wanted to do, and no ifs, ands or buts about it, he wanted to do whatever it took to become a Marine.”
Bobek arrived at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, January 18, 2016 for a grueling 13 weeks of training and transformation into a United States Marine. The recruit wasn't without support; people from all across the nation sent letters to show the young man who overcame hardship and achieved his goal he wasn't alone.
“We saw a great amount of support being raised on Salt Lake City East's Facebook page and thought this would be a great story to tell the world,” said Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Evans, social media director, 12th Marine Corps District, San Diego.
Bobek completed the Crucible, the 52-hour culminating event for recruit training, March 31, 2016. Upon competition, he and the rest of Hotel Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, earned the title of United States Marine and received their coveted eagle, globe and anchor insignias from their drill instructors. The company graduated recruit training April 8th.
“I wasn't looking for anything from the Marine Corps, initially,” said Bobek. “But then I realized you can gain a family and become part of a brotherhood.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Taylor Morton
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