Immokalee Marine begins his life vision of service

Immokalee has a lot of young people to be proud of. Great students, athletes – young people who are already making a difference in their lives and in their hometown.

One such young man, Hernan Villa, just 18 years old and a 2015 graduate of Immokalee High School.

He is also a United States Marine.

Pfc Hernan Villa

Pfc Hernan Villa

Pfc. Villa recently graduated from Marine Corps basic training in Parris Island, South Carolina and cut his teeth on the military life. Home on leave for a time, he returned to duty last Monday.

Pfc Villa was proud of how he accepted the challenges and obstacles of his initial training. “They really test you mentally and physically,” he said.

This dedicated young man said he always wanted to be a Marine – since he was in the second grade when his dad took him to a Dolphins/49’ers football game in Miami and he noticed a trio of uniformed Marines – two males and a female there, just talking to people, but they caught the young boy’s attention and he knew that was what he wanted to be. Of course, they also had a really cool Humvee there, but it was the Marines themselves that drew him. He said he always knew he wanted to be a warrior and looked up to those Marines.

In high school he took graphic design but realized it wasn’t for him and in his senior year he focused on the military, taking a two-class block in JROTC. It taught him some of the discipline, the marching and drilling. He learned military jargon and about the chain of command. And he met Army Sgt. Major Porter, a 20-year veteran and successful man who became his role model.

Pfc Villa said he did not expect all the knowledge he would have to take in to become a Marine, working hard in the classroom as well as out in the field. Being a US Marine is dangerous work, but it also requires brains and initiative. You are trained to save lives, he said, and the job is selfless. “It’s never about you,” he said.

He also said he didn’t really realize or fully appreciate the change in him over the last three months till he came home to Immokalee. At home, people have noticed his new maturity. He stands tall and proud – never looking down.

Pfc Villa said a lot of kids are capable of being a success in the military if they want to take on the challenge, but it’s not for everybody. It’s a life of sacrifice, he explained, and “a lot of people don’t want to sacrifice.”

Basic training was grueling, but he said the hardest part for him was being away from his family. It was all worth it, though. “I’m proud of what and who I have become,” he said, and hopes to make the Corps his career. In any case, he knows he has made the grade. With or without a uniform – you’re always a Marine.

Back on duty, Pfc Villa headed to Camp; Geiger, NC School of Infantry Monday, October 26. He said he chose the infantry because he is a warrior – he always wanted to be in the fight.

The Corps provides a lot of opportunities and benefits, he acknowledges, but must be willing to make the sacrifice. As with anything in life, an individual always brings something with them. Pfc Villa was very humble in estimating what he brought to the Corps. “Just one guy,” he said, “but everybody counts. You’re not just a number, you’re another man.”

Patty Brant, Publisher of the Immokalee Bulletin can be reached at pbrant@newszap.com

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