|CAMP SANTIAGO, SALINAS, Puerto Rico, July 19, 2006 — Most people return home to visit family, friends and old hangouts. Cpl. Carlos M. Domenech, a Marine and native of Puerto Rico, got to do that as well as help train his fellow countrymen in the Army Reserve’s 65th Readiness Reserve Command.
Domenech and Team-5 of the Foreign Military Training Unit, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, held their Operational Readiness Exercise here recently and the soldiers of the 448th Engineer Battalion and 313th Postal Group, who were holding their annual training, served as students.
“This has been a great learning experience for me,” said the 20-year-old. “These guys have been real receptive to the training, and I feel a special bond between us (like between Iraqi war veterans).”
Domenech spent his childhood in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, a place he described as beautiful and peaceful, with his mother and her family before moving to Tampa, Fla., in 1999.
“My mom wanted me to have a better education and to be near my father, while she got a better job,” he said. “It was a culture shock when I moved here-the people, the environment and even the school system-but I adapted quickly.”
He joined the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps in high school when he was only 17.
“I was one of the first male members of my family to graduate high school and I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and have a successful military career,” said Domenech, a 2003 graduate of Chamberlain High School in Tampa, Fla. “But I also wanted to be the best.”
After all his initial training, he found himself deploying with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II from July 2004 to January 2005. He received a purple heart for injuries in combat during Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah before returning to the United States.
Shortly after returning stateside he received orders to report to the newly-established FMTU, then under the command of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism), for his language and combat skills.
“This is a new opportunity for me to learn new fields and instruct others on what I have learned,” Domenech said.
Domenech’s role in the 11-man team of “scholar-warriors” is as a basic infantry combat instructor and the ORE was his first real-world experience as a teacher.