Hijo de Gato, Gatito
Pfc. Joe-Ray Bermudez, Platoon 3017, Company K, is inspected by his father Gunnery Sgt. Manuel Bermudez, a chief drill instructor for Co. K. Photo by: Pfc. Charlie Chavez
Father’s footsteps: New Marine graduates today from Company K with his father as chief drill instructor
Sept. 15, 2006; Submitted on: 09/15/2006 01:02:02 PM ; Story ID#: 20069151322
By Pfc. Charlie Chavez, MCRD San Diego
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (Sept. 15, 2006) -- Like father, like son. A Company K recruit followed his drill instructor father to the depot as a recruit in his father’s company.
Private first class Joe-Ray Bermudez, Platoon 3017, a native of Albuquerque, N.M., left for the depot on Aug. 19. Joe-Ray enlisted in the Corps as an electronics maintenance technician.
His father, Gunnery Sgt. Manuel Bermudez, is one of two series gunnery sergeants for Co. K, who oversee the drill instructors training recruits in the company.
“It came as a shock when I found out a week before he came to the depot that he had enlisted,” said Manuel, also an Albuquerque, N.M. native. “He told me that he was coming to visit for the summer, and that he had already lined up a job, which I didn’t know was being a recruit.”
Leaving behind his mother and the beginning of his college education, Joe-Ray left the community college he was attending to find more discipline and knowledge before finishing school.
“I had mixed feelings at first about him not pursuing his college education,” said Manuel. “Then he came here and I saw how well he was doing, and I was very pleased.”
Having endured boot camp helped Joe-Ray to idolize his father more after seeing the hard work and devotion the drill instructors put into training. He also anticipates making the Marine Corps a career and perhaps becoming a drill instructor later on, according to Joe-Ray.
Manuel doesn’t take credit for his son’s decision to pursue the Corps, and commented on his admiration for his son having made the decision on his own.
“He’s much more disciplined and in better shape then he was when he came here, which is great,” said Manuel. “The Marine Corps seems to be a good fit for him.”
When visiting his father during the summer months, Joe-Ray knew that the regimented lifestyle that the military provided at his father’s home made some things different than he was used to.
The Marine Corps instills rules and regulations both in training and in life at home. The main focus is to understand structure and apply it within a lifestyle and raise honorable children, said Manuel.
Impressed by his father’s devotion to the Marine Corps, Joe-Ray welcomed the experiences his father shared with him about his adventures. His stories about traveling to other countries and the camaraderie that he expressed made desirable stepping stones for the Marine Corps as a career choice, said Joe-Ray.
Once on the depot, Joe-Ray received no special treatment. He was treated just as any other recruit.
A bonus, however, to Joe-Ray was the bond he shared with his father, which provided him motivation to excel, while his father looked on.
“During the ‘Reaper’ hill at the end of the Crucible, I saw my father at the top and that helped me to push myself to get to him,” said Joe-Ray. “Having my father here provides a lot of support to succeed and do well.”
Physical training and the obstacle courses were appealing to the 19-year-old recruit who relished in the competitive physical training. The need to push himself came naturally to the athletic recruit.
“He and his father share many similarities,” said Gunnery Sgt. George Castillo, drill instructor, Platoon 3017, Co. K. “They are both leaders and do well with physical training, and they both carry themselves in the same relative manner.”
After a summer with his father that he will never forget, Joe-Ray moves to Marine Combat Training and a separate direction in the Marine Corps, but the strengthened father-son bond in boot camp will follow him wherever he goes.