Face of Defense: Football Player Trades Cleats for Combat Boots
SAN DIEGO --
A star athlete found success on the field and the basketball court, but he joined the Marine Corps to find success in life.
“I just realized I wanted to do something bigger for myself,” said Pfc. John R. Porchivina, Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion here. “I was just sitting around doing nothing. I could go to school and play football, but how is that benefiting anybody else but me?”
The 20 year old grew up in Novato, California, with a loving and supportive family that included his mother, father, brother and sister. He played football, baseball and basketball, but decided to commit most of his time to football, his favorite sport. He played in the Pop Warner league and at Casa Grande High School.
“Football was what I excelled in,” Porchivina said. “It was pretty much my entire life. When I was a kid, I realized I wanted to play football in college and later join the Marine Corps.” After graduating, he attended the University of California Berkley on a football scholarship.
He intended to transfer to San Jose State University after playing at Berkley, he said, but shortly after he arrived there, he suffered an injury at football practice that changed his path completely. “I broke my hand the weekend before the season started,” he said. “I was put on the bench the entire season.”
As he watched his teammates play, Porchivina said, all he could do was sit and wait to recover as he continued to take classes.
Joining the Marine Corps was something that had been on his mind since childhood, and when he was 19 years old and sitting on the couch watching attacks and terrorism on the news, he knew it was the time to join before it was too late, he said.
“I wanted to go fight for my country,” he added. “I was watching the news a lot and saw what was going on with [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant], and that’s what got me thinking.”
His brother was the first person he approached with the idea to enlist. “We kind of had a heart-to-heart,” Porchivina said. “That’s when I realized now was the time to join and hopefully make a difference in this world and this country.” His father, who previously had served with the Marine Corps, also was supportive, and so was his mother, he said.
Porchivina went to the recruiting station and about a month later departed for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to take the challenge to become a United States Marine. He served as the guide for his platoon, and during phase one of training, his platoon felt discombobulated while trying to adapt to a new lifestyle, Porchivina said. Toward the end of phase two, he continued, he had gained enough confidence to lead his platoon. Phase three of training was the toughest for him, he added, as it required more leadership from him.
“The lifestyle has been different, and was a culture shock,” he said. “Instead of being the best football player, I have to be the guide and lead from the front and be a good example.”
While most recruits find their training difficult, Porchivina said he found motivation by striving to be better than his father. “I’ve always wanted to outdo my father,” he said with a smile on his face. “He was never the guide, so I wanted to be guide. He shot expert, so I had to shoot expert.”
Porchivina said he is expecting his parents, siblings and extended family to attend his graduation. Following recruit training, Porchivina will report to the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton, California, to become an infantryman.