MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Marine Corps Pfc. Frederick M. Padilla Jr. is following in his father’s footsteps while finding his own path.
Padilla grew up in the military lifestyle. His grandfather was a career Air Force officer, his uncle is a retired Air Force major general, and his father is Maj. Gen. Frederick M. Padilla, director of operations, plans, policies and operations at Headquarters Marine Corps, until now the only Marine in the family.
However, even with his family’s military background, Padilla did not want to join the military at first.
“I wanted to see if I could do something other than what my dad did,” said 22-year-old Padilla, assigned to Platoon 1046, Company C, 1st Recruit Training Battalion here.
Padilla said he began boxing at the age of 13 as a hobby, but wanted to try his luck at becoming a professional boxer. But he soon realized he was not going to earn a living boxing, he said, and decided to make a career change.
“My father and my uncle told me to give the military a shot,” said Padilla, a native of Oxnard, Calif. “I was going the wrong path and not making anything out of myself.”
He met with a recruiter and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Padilla shipped off to recruit training Oct. 28 to follow in his father’s footsteps, an enormous task by any measure.
“It definitely sets the bar high, because he is passionate and loves the Marine Corps,” Padilla said. “I admire that, and it gives me someone to emulate.”
For Padilla, recruit training was an adjustment. Surrounded by younger recruits who talked about their families and hometowns, he said, he wanted to create his own luck -- he did not want anyone to know his father’s rank, and he did not want to give anyone any reason to treat him differently.
“He worked his way up to become one of the squad leaders, but nobody knew who his father was,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Jason A. Sabater, senior drill instructor, a native of Vallejo, Calif. “He wants to create his own path, and that says a lot about him.”
During recruit training, Padilla said, his father sent him encouraging messages of pride and guidance. “I want to be a good man, a good citizen and a good Marine like my father,” he said. “He is someone I can go to for guidance in any matter, because he is my father and fellow Marine.”
Sabater said Padilla is a natural leader, not only because of his initiative and decisiveness, but also because of the foundation that comes along with being the son of a Marine.
“There is definitely pressure, but I like it, because it keeps me straight. It’s not just me messing up -- I’m a direct reflection of him,” Padilla said. “I have his name, and I want to make him proud but, at the same time, I want to make my own path.”
Padilla will attend the School of Infantry at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to become an infantryman. He said he also plans to start college once his training is complete and follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I want to become an officer and be like him,” he said. “He is not only a great Marine, but also a great father.”