Tuesday, November 07, 2006

PFC Santiago Diez

Santiago Diez graduated from Bridges to a Brighter Future in July 2005. His last summer in the program was challenging. I remember having several discussions with his father regarding Santiago's behavior and decisions. Looking back, Santiago was simply going through the unsettling teenage years. It was that summer he announced he would join the United States Marine Corps after high school graduation. We all were not sure if we should believe him. There were those who thought he was joking and those who thought it would be good for him. I was one of those who thought it would be good for him.

Therefore, I was excited last week when I heard his voice on the other end of the phone. He had just graduated from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, S.C. Immediately I could tell he was a new man! The first obvious difference was his use of "yes ma'am." He used it often and with respect. We immediately made plans to see each other in person.

Santiago stepped out of his car dressed in uniform! I remembered back to over a year ago when he was an unsure young man who cut up in class. And there he was, dressed from from head to toe with purpose. Not only was he dressed with purpose, but he spoke with purpose. Santiago and I talked for an hour about how the Marines Corps changed him. He talked about the great challenges he encountered during 16 weeks of basic training and how those challenges created in him, a new man. He spoke of teamwork, commitment and purpose.

PFC Diez has now moved on to Marine Combat Training at Camp Lejune, NC. He said that for over 20 days, he will sleep in a tent and will go through more grueling training. After combat training, he will go to Pensacola, Florida for Aviation Training. He hopes to further his career in the Marines working in aviation and expects to be deployed to Okinawa, Japan.

We are so proud of you Santiago and are proud of your commitment to serve our country!!