As Pvt. Joel A. Lopez, Platoon 3263, Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, made his way through each event of the Crucible, he knew he was getting one step closer to becoming a part of the Marine Corps’ brotherhood.
Eighteen-year-old Lopez, a Houston native, joined the Corps to find a better way of life for himself and his brothers.
Lopez lived in a rough neighborhood in Northeast Houston that had a high gang-related crime rate. His family’s monthly income was unstable, but his parents always ensured that at leat the kids’ basic necessities were met.
Lopez’s parents divorced when he was 12, leaving him and his brothers split up into each home.
“The divorce was hard on me and my brothers. My brothers bounced back and forth between homes while I stayed with my mother,” said Lopez. “Both of my parents fought for guardianship, so it made things rough for us.”
Once Lopez turned 18, he realized he needed to make a career decision that would provide a better way of living for him and his brothers. He talked to a Marine recruiter and started his journey to a new beginning.
“Brotherhood means a lot to me, and that’s what the Marine Corps is,” said Lopez. “I love my brothers back home and would do anything for them.”
According to Sgt. Richard R. Kennedy, Lopez shows less individualism and truly works as part of the team.
“He knows what he is here for and what he needs to accomplish,” said Kennedy, a Killeen, Texas, native. “His brothers are his motivation to keep pushing forward, and now he has a bigger band of brothers in the Marine Corps.”
Lopez is scheduled to graduate recruit training on Aug. 29, and then will attend Marine Combat Training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Upon completion of MCT, he will continue his schooling for his military occupational specialty as a field artillery cannoneer.
“My parents were born in Mexico, and as the first generation in my family to be born in this country, I feel obligated to serve my country,” said Lopez. “I will make my brothers proud, and I look forward to serving next to my new-found brothers in the Marine Corps.”