The U.S. Marine Corps is made up of people that come from all over the world, from every clime and place. Recruit Cvetomir V. Cvetkov, Platoon 1074, Company D., 1st Recruit Training Battalion is a native of Bulgaria, who joined the Marine Corps because he said he wanted to be one of the best.While getting his degree in accounting at the National and Worth Economy School in Bulgaria, Cvetkov began to work on coming to America on a student visa during the summer of 2003.
Cvetkov traveled to America to earn extra money by working a summer job at Six Flags Great America, in Chicago with some of his fellow classmates from his school. On their advice that he took the opportunity to earn extra money during the summer, improve his English, and explore new things.
“I decided I wanted to stay in America because there is still a lot of corruption in Bulgaria, and my younger brother is also here in the United States,” he said.
In 2006, after he obtained his degree, Cvetkov decided to immigrate to America. Since his degree was not recognized in the U.S., and the Corps wouldn’t recognize a student visa in order to enlist, he took up a job as a bartender and a limo driver, with intensions to eventually start college in the states.
While he was bartending in 2007 he met Rachel Cvetkov, 22, a Wisconsin native who was waitressing at the bar where he worked and shortly after they met they married. Though he married a U.S. citizen, Cvetkov had difficulties obtaining full American citizenship. He is currently on a two year visa, and plans on earning his citizenship soon. Since Cvetkov could never find the time or money to attend college while in the states he found himself stuck in a rut, he said.
“When I was a limo driver I would just sit in traffic, then one day I realized I was 27 and needed to do something better with my life,” says Cvetkov.
The Marine Corps could now accept Cvetkov under a resident visa, he said. So since he was soon to be at the cut off age Cvetkov, decided now was the time to enlist.
“I wanted stability for my wife and for myself. I also wanted to be a part of the toughest, hardest branch,” said Cvetkov. “So I didn’t even talk to the other services. I just went to a Marine recruiter.”
Cvetkov was very unsure of himself coming into recruit training because he didn’t understand the ways of the Marine Corps, he said. So when his drill instructors asked him if he wanted to be the guide during first phase, he declined.
The guide is the person selected by the drill instructors, to act as peer leader for his platoon.
“In second phase I didn’t give him the choice, I just made him guide,” said Staff Sgt. David A. Comas, drill instructor, platoon 1074 Co. D, 1st RTB. “The first week he seemed to have a tough time, but he put out the effort, especially for being the oldest recruit in the platoon. There’s never been a time I haven’t seen him put out the effort.”
With the help of his squad leaders, Cvetkov quickly adapted, and had a big affect on his platoon, said Comas. “He would always say, ‘I’m 28, if I can do this you can,” said Comas.
“This was a motivating factor for the other recruits, and Cvetkov is such a large guy, so they all listen to him.”
Once Cvetkov got the guide position, Recruit Blake A. Rutledge, Platoon 1074, Co. D., and the other squad leaders helped him by answering any questions he had.
“We just tried to help get him acclimated to the Marine Corps environment,” said Rutledge.
Cvetkov said the Marine Corps has thus far lived up to his expectations and has made him a more confident and disciplined person. He has also established teamwork skills that everyone must display during the Crucible, he said.
The Crucible is a 54 hour test of endurance while food and sleep deprived, and more than 30 tedious obstacles designed to test the recruits on all they have learned over the last 12 weeks.
“You can’t accomplish any of the Crucible by yourself. Pretty much every obstacle requires team effort,” says Cvetkov.
Cvetkov will soon go to Marine Combat Training, then to his military occupational speciality school in supply. A supply specialist performs every element of ground supply administration and operations.
Now that Cvetkov feels he’s gained commitment and pride, he has hopes to make a career out of the Marine Corps and become and officer.
“No matter what job I do in the Marine Corps, whether its behind a desk or a gun, our drill instructors told us to do our best. We’re the future of the Marine Corps,” said Cvetkov.