Sustaining an injury while training is one of the last
things recruits want to deal with during their experience.
They try their best to prevent any injuries, but sometimes
accidents happen. After waiting for almost a year to become
a Marine, Private First Class Mauricio E. Cadena, Fox
Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, finally graduates
Cadena wanted to join the Marine Corps ever since he was a little
“I remember seeing the commercials on TV all the time, and I was
so fascinated by them,” said Cadena. “A family friend from church
had a son who joined the Marine Corps, and it was so motivating when
I saw him after he graduated and came back. That was the moment I
knew that I wanted to join the Marine Corps.”
May 31, 2016 - Private First Class Mauricio E. Cadena, Fox Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion,
stands next to Company F's sign in front of his squad bay at Marine
Corps Recruit Depot San Diego a few days before he and his fellow
Fox Company recruits graduation, June 3, 2016. Cadena spent an extra
eight months at the depot before graduating to repair a knee injury. Annually, more than 17,000 males recruited from the Western Recruiting Region are trained at MCRD San Diego. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angelica Annastas)
Growing up in Commerce, Texas, wasn't difficult for
Cadena, but it wasn't easy either. He and his two younger
brothers were raised by a single mother who had to work
constantly to support her family.
“[My mother and I] butted heads a lot, but she was a
strong-willed woman,” said Cadena. “She was someone I could look up
to because of her good work ethic. She had to take on the role of
both the mother and the father for me and my brothers, and it wasn't
easy for her.”
Before heading to recruit training, Cadena had to complete high
school and earn a diploma.
“School wasn't too bad,” said Cadena.
“I was really lazy, but I still managed to earn mostly B's. I just
never made it a priority.”
Before starting his senior year, Cadena joined the delayed entry
program and started his journey to become a Marine. His first steps
on the depot were July 13, 2015, and he was attached to Fox Company.
However, his time with Fox Company was cut short after tearing his
“It was during one of our hikes when it happened,” said Cadena.
“We were going downhill, and one of the other recruits grabbed my
pack from behind for support and ended up falling on me in the
process. My knee got dislocated.”
Cadena was sent to medical and was diagnosed with a tear in his
left ACL. He was dropped from his platoon in Fox Company and
assigned to a Medical Rehabilitation Platoon. This platoon is for
recruits who are injured or become ill during recruit training and
cannot continue in training with their companies. It is there they
focus on recovery.
“They offered to send me home for surgery, but
I knew that if I went home I'd get caught up in something,” said
Cadena. “I kept getting offers to go back home, but I chose to stay.
I thought, ‘I was already here, so I might as well stick it out.'”
Overall, the eight months in the MRP was difficult for Cadena.
“It felt like I was stuck in limbo forever, just waiting,” said
Cadena. “As soon as I picked up, though, I missed everyone. I missed
the friendships and brotherhood I had with the other recruits in
MRP. It was a good experience for me, and I wouldn't take it back
When Cadena's knee finally healed up, he was able to pick back up
with Fox Company.
“My surgeon worked with me on that,” said Cadena. “He knew I
wanted to finish with Fox Company, so he helped out in making that
The transition back into the course of recruit training was
nothing like what it was in the MRP.
“It sucked not knowing what
was going on anymore,” said Cadena. “I was so lost in the sauce most
of the time, which is normal as a recruit, I guess.”
after continuing where he left off, Cadena was selected to be the
new guide of his platoon.
“I was the guide in MRP, so it wasn't
completely new,” said Cadena. “The whole leadership aspect was what
kind of threw me off a little. I was in charge, but I was limited in
what I could do, in a sense. I would be given a task and was
expected to adapt and overcome, all in a fast manner. I couldn't
slip up because I knew they would see that and use it against me. I
had to earn that level of respect as the guide.”
his Eagle, Globe and Anchor was a pivotal moment for Cadena.
felt so surreal,” said Cadena. “It was like something massive was
just taken off of my shoulders. I waited so long for that moment. I
remember looking out in the distance and taking everything in on top
of that hill and thinking, ‘I made it.' It felt too good to be
The moment that tied his experience together was when
Staff Sgt. Steven I. Valdez called Cadena into his office.
Sgt. Valdez was one of my drill instructors when I was in MRP,” said
Cadena. “He got attached to Fox Company, just like me, but he was
with another platoon. He called me into his office after and he took
the EGA off of his cover and he gave it to me. I looked up to that
man, and I'll never forget that moment.”
training, Cadena will report to the School of Infantry at Marine
Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and then to his military
occupational specialty school to become an aviation electronics
“To keep myself motivated, I remember looking back at
an experience I had with [Staff Sgt. Elrico D. Netter],” said Cadena.
“He was my receiving drill instructor and every morning he would ask
me three knowledge questions, and they wouldn't be easy ones. They
were the most random knowledge questions, but he would expect me to
know the answer. I remember him telling me, ‘Don't waste your time
here. You have to do something. Find an area that needs improvement
and work on it.' Because of that, I was able to continue growing and
I learned a lot about myself.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Angelica Annastas
The U.S. Marines
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