I just said "See ya later" to a Marine that I admire. That man is Albert Renteria CWO4 (retired). He just visited the Austin area and I took him out to lunch. It was a good lunch and it did me good to spend some time with a person who I have much respect and gratitude for. All brought about by an internet social network.
While I was on Facebook back on Feb 16, 2009, I got bored and started looking up people that I knew from my past. All I could think of were old friends from when I was on active duty being stationed in Camp Pendleton, CA @ 3rd Battalion 1st Marines. As I looked for old buddies one person crossed my mind that I had not thought of in a long time; CWO4 Albert Renteria. Not thinking that I would find him, I typed his name and "BAM", there he was. I sat there looking at his name and picture, I thought to myself how different and older he looked yet still the same person & wondered if people thought the same of me whenever they saw my profile picture. I asked myself if I should send him a request to be my friend on Facebook. I sat there a minute or so and thought "What the hell". In a matter of minutes I received a response from him accepting my invitation to become "internet" friends. I didn't know how to address him since he was "Sir" or "CWO4 Renteria" but he told me to call him Al. It took a few E-mails to adjust to call him by his first name but I got used to it.
I never thought in a million years that I would ever have any type of communication with him again. You see, I had not seen CWO4 Renteria since April 1997 when we returned from a six month float on WESTPAC. Soon after my arrival back to the states I had orders elsewhere. Al was my Personnel Chief while I was stationed at 3/1 as a young Lance Corporal. I had come to know him in 1994 when he took over CONAD (Consolidated Administration) at 3/1. He turned our office of "pogues" inside out upon his arrival. The days of taking it easy were over. He would make us learn what it meant to be a real ADMIN MARINE. He was disliked for the most part by most of the Marines in our office because of the amount of work he made us do. Prior to his arrival, life in our office seemed to be easy. Unfortunate to say, we as Marines decided to become complacent with work and we took shortcuts. Things changed soon after. Hindsight is 20/20 but during that time we thought he was just pure evil!! He made us become responsible by reading and learning. He always told us that "Knowledge is Power and Power is Knowledge". I use those words to this day. If we had a question we knew we could ask it but we needed to have the answer. That answer was found in all the manuals we had at our disposal (PRIM, IRAM, DEERS Manual etc).
As a young LCpl, it was difficult for me to accept why he was so strict on us after all I was only a LCpl. In the Marine Corps everything is for a reason. I look back and realize why. He provided me with those tools to take charge of any situation and know how to get solutions. As a somewhat new Marine I took everything personal and it bothered me that I could not get over on him on anything no matter how hard I tried until I started to realize that perhaps I should just start doing what was expected of me and more and then perhaps I wouldn't have the burden of being upset so much. I learned a lot. I learned that by gaining information that helped me in my everyday life made life so much easier and it showed people that I was dependable and the "go to guy". It was a good feeling to know that people trusted me with their problems or concerns not only in the office but out of it.