San Diego -- After graduating high school six months early, Pfc. Isaac Cordova, Platoon 3210, Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, found himself working as a janitor. He wasn't satisfied with what he was doing and couldn't see himself making a career of the job, so Cordova began to explore his options—the Marine Corps landed on the top of his list.
After growing up in a family with a strong military background, his desire to serve his country came naturally. Cordova found great inspiration through his two older brothers who are both Marines.
"I joined the Marine Corps because they're the best," said Cordova. "I also wanted to set a good example for others around me. Both of my brothers live by honor, courage and commitment, and they motivated me to want to strive to exemplify those traits."
While the decision to enlist was simple for Cordova, the same can’t be said about his first few weeks of training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. During recruit training, some recruits blend in with the crowd while others stand out. Cordova quickly made an impression on his drill instructors during the first hygiene inspection.
"A month before boot camp, my girlfriend painted my toenail pink and black," said Cordova. "I tried to get it off with nail polish remover, but it wouldn't come off, so I still had it on when I got to training."
While it didn't take long for his drill instructors to notice his painted toe, they also caught on to something else.
"When we first got him, he had an attitude problem and couldn't seem to keep up with learning the basics," said Staff Sgt. Jason Fair, senior drill instructor, Plt. 3210, Co. I, 3rd RTBn.
Cordova’s drill instructors noticed him struggling and decided to challenge him more by making him a squad leader; that is when everything changed.
"As a squad leader I learned to change my selfish mindset," said Cordova. "I found a balance between taking care of myself and others. I've learned that in order to achieve mission accomplishment and troop welfare you have to put others before yourself."
Because of his hard work, Cordova was deemed most improved recruit of his platoon by his drill instructors.
"To see how far he's come and how much he's matured is great," said Fair. "When we first got him, he had a lot of problems and now he's one of our better, more dependable recruits. He's always getting tasks done first, helping out and taking care of others."
Through his determination and the help of his drill instructors, Cordova earned the title, “United States Marine.”
"It feels great to have made it this far. It definitely took a lot to get here, I had a lot of bad times and good times," said Cordova, "I gave my best effort and the change between day one and now certainly shows. I see it every day when I look at myself in the mirror. I feel proud."