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Face of Defense: Marine Returns to Native Philippines for Exercise

By Marine Corps Cpl. Joey Holeman 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force

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CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines, October 15, 2015 — For the first time in nearly four years, Marine Corps Sgt. Viktor Cadiente is back in his homeland, and he's not on leave. He's here to support Amphibious Landing Exercise 2015.

"It's a nostalgic feeling to be in the country in which I was brought up in,” Cadiente said. “It makes me realize how much I've grown, how far I've come, and it gives me that humbling feeling to be reminded where I came from.”

Cadiente, a joint fires observer assigned to 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, said this trip is the first time his father has seen him in uniform. “It is a good feeling to physically see my dad and see how proud he is of me,” the sergeant said.

Dreams of Service

Cadiente, who grew up in the Philippines until he was 16, said he always dreamed about serving in the military.

“Viktor has always been independent-minded and held a fascination with military life since he was a kid,” said Arnulfo D. de Vera, Cadiente’s father. “He nurtured that fascination by himself, and I wasn't the least surprised when he finally decided to pursue his dream.”

Both Cadiente and his father said they believe serving in the Marine Corps has given him opportunities that might not have been available to him if he had stayed in the Philippines.

“The Marine Corps has given my son the maturity and outlook that he wouldn't have gotten as fast as he did from living a civilian life,” said de Vera, a Manila native. “I am very proud with the fact that he joined the Marines.”

Importance of Education

During his sophomore year of high school, Cadiente moved to Hawaii, where he stayed with his mother, who worked as a hospital janitor to support him and his little sister. He said he credits his mother for making it possible for him to better his education.

“The one thing I appreciate the most is the opportunity [he has] to obtain higher education while serving his country,” de Vera said.

Driven by the support of his wife, his mother and his family in the Philippines, Cadiente said, he will continue to pursue his goals, which include continuing his education and eventually applying for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program.

“He has grown to be a smart and responsible grandson,” said Virginia Cadiente, his grandmother. “He is a man who strives really hard to achieve his dreams.”