SIOUX FALLS, S.D. --
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Cesar Garcia, an Avionics Technician with Marine Attack Squadron 231, sits under an open hatch on an AV-8B Harrier II and plugs his laptop in to run tests. Garcia and his Marines work long hours, but come together and enjoy their work.
“If it weren’t for my Marines, I wouldn’t have reenlisted,” Garcia said with a smile. “They told me if I didn’t reenlist, they wouldn’t stay in the Marine Corps either.”
Garcia is a Tulsa, Oklahoma native with a wife and a one-year-old daughter named Madeline. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2014. His wife of three years is a U.S. Air Force veteran from the same career field. His two siblings currently serve in the U.S. Army. His sister as an officer and his twin brother as a sergeant. They often talk about various challenges between branches of service and sometimes find solid advice applicable to their own situations.
“After seeing my siblings get promoted, I would call them and ask for advice on leadership,” Garcia said. “I called my brother one day and we talked about one of his soldiers losing their gas mask. I told him that if I were in his situation, I would make sure the soldier learned from their mistakes, but I would never make the soldier resent what they do. He used my advice. He teaches and mentors his soldiers.” Even though Garcia and his siblings are in different branches of the military, they learn and teach each other how to be better leaders.
“When I reached the fleet I challenged myself to learn everything I could and work towards making myself better every day,” Garcia said. “That transition from school to working in the fleet was very difficult with the leadership that I had at the time. We learned a lot from them and when we got in those same leadership positions we decided we weren’t going to treat our Marines the same way.” Garcia takes pride in being a mentor for his junior Marines and making sure they are cared for.
Transitioning from a school environment to working 12-hour shifts can be difficult. Garcia ensures that new Marines making this transition are taught the routine and procedures in VMA-231. “A lot of times new Marines will come to VMA-231 and just see an aircraft,” Garcia said. “You have to break them in, show them the routine and make sure they know what they are doing.”
Last week, Garcia and his Marines participated in Exercise Banzai Badlands in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The high winds and low temperatures made working outside difficult.
Even in freezing temperatures, Garcia has a smile on his face when he’s working with his Marines.
“These guys keep me here,” Garcia expressed. “If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here. We could be working 12-hour shifts in the middle of the desert, or here where it’s snowing. Being with these guys makes it worth it.”