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Face of Defense: Officer Pushes Marines to Succeed

By Marine Corps Pfc. Khoa N. Pelczar
Special to American Forces Press Service

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Sept. 8, 2009 – A boy who wanted to become an architect ended up enlisting to be a part of the brotherhood of the Marine Corps. Today, as an officer, he uses his experience as an enlisted Marine to help those in his charge.

Growing up, Marine Corps Capt. Alexis Sanchez went to a fine-arts high school to study and prepare his art portfolio to be submitted to a college. But a sudden change of heart led the 18-year-old to become a Marine.

Sanchez, the operations officer for Headquarters Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, remembers when he first saw the Marine Corps poster advertisement featuring the most decorated Marine, Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller, holding a sword. When his mother would joke with him about how he should join the Corps, he said, he gave her the same answer every time: “No way, Mom, because they kill people.”

A recruiter started calling him, and gave him another option to consider after graduating from high school. After seeing a classmate enlist under the Delayed Entry Program, Sanchez decided it was time for a change. He walked right up to the recruiting station and enlisted.

After Sanchez was enlisted for seven and a half years, he said, he figured it was time for another change, but he wasn't ready to leave the Corps. So he earned a commission through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program.

"Having the enlisted background, it gives me the sanity check,” the 31-year-old native of Paterson, N.J., said. “I know what works and what doesn't."

Having served as an enlisted Marine, Sanchez said, he can relate to the enlisted Marines who serve under him. That, he added, has helped him out tremendously in his job.

As operations officer, his job is to develop a pre-deployment training plan, which involves attending meetings to discuss different types of training and coordinating with subordinate units and outside agencies.

"If I take time to do a detailed plan now, it would eliminate a lot of headaches down the road," Sanchez said. "Marines would be able to train properly with no downtime. Knowing that I have contributed to something that would affect the Marines and bring them back safely from deployments due to proper training, it makes me feel good about my job."

His junior Marines agree Sanchez is approachable. They can go to him for anything, they said, and he treats them with the utmost respect.

"Treat others like how you want to be treated; I have always followed this concept in my career," Sanchez said. "You can always learn something from anyone."

Sanchez said he treats his Marines the way he would treat his children. He spends time with them to get to know them and help them do well.

"I want to be able to wake up every morning and push my kids to do their best by mere example,” he said. “That translates to my professional career by wanting to push my Marines to do their best by setting the example as well."

Sanchez said meeting people face to face makes it easier to actually get to know them. In the process, he added, he is able to get out of the office and meet a lot of people.

One way he does that is joining his fellow Marines on the softball field.

"I enjoy participating on the softball team, because it allows me to engage the Marines outside of work, and I believe it builds camaraderie," said Sanchez, who plays left-center field, pitcher and first base for 1st Marine Logistics Group team, The Dirty Dogs.

Sanchez said he plans to stay in the Corps for at least 20 years, and hopes to become either a math or Spanish teacher after retirement. That way, he said, he can continue to pass down his knowledge and make a difference in people’s lives.

(Marine Corps Pfc. Khoa N. Pelczar serves with the 1st Marine Logistics Group.)

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