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Pvt. Kelvin Contreras, North Philadelphia native, and his mother, Ana, take a moment to pose for a photo after the family day ceremony aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C, recently.

Photo by Courtesy Photo

New Marine adopts transformation, drops old ways

1 Jul 2014 | Sgt. Damany Coleman 1st Marine Corps District

Pvt. Kelvin Contreras, a graduate of Mastbaum Area Vocational Technical School, successfully completed Marine Corps Recruit Training, June 6th.
There’s nothing easy about boot camp and Contreras, a North Philadelphia native, made things a little tougher on himself by having a “Philly attitude,” he says.

“Some of the other recruits were from Louisiana, Virginia and a few from even New Jersey, but I was the only one from Philly,” said Contreras. “We don’t really like to be told what to do.”

Contreras said that he would not yell when a drill instructor or even another recruit told him to do something.

“I would move fast, but I always felt like, ‘Why do I have to listen to you?’” said Contreras. “I’m 20 years old, I have my own car, and I’m doing fine in life. Why do I have to listen to some guy I just met a few hours ago?”

Now, Contreras said that he knows that behavior is very disrespectful. Not just to another recruit, but to a sergeant or staff sergeant that has been in for awhile and probably has gone to war for this country, he said.

“It took me a few weeks to get rid of my attitude,” said Contreras. “On training day 25, that’s when everything clicked for me. I started yelling at the top of my lungs, running faster and doing exercises the right way.”

Contreras said that once he allowed the transformation from civilian to Marine to begin, it was a great feeling. It felt even better to know his family and friends noticed the difference too.

“While you’re at boot camp, you’re doing all of these things because you’re told to and it becomes habit,” said Contreras. “Before boot camp, my mom would come home from work and her stress wouldn’t be from her day, it would be from seeing dirty dishes, clothes on the floor, and my bed not being made. It got so bad that she even had to call my recruiter.”

His recruiter, Sgt. Michael Rodriguez with Recruiting Substation Tun Tavern, said he noticed the difference right away.

“The level of discipline he now has, his level of respect for others, the attention to detail and time management that his mom has mentioned… it’s all new, but it looks good on him,” said Rodriguez.

“The other day, I woke up about 4 a.m. just to shave,” said Contreras. “My fiancé said I jumped out of bed with force. I probably thought I was still in boot camp. Some of my behavior is weird to them, but I know they’re proud of me.”

After graduation from boot camp, Marine Combat Training Battalion is the next step in training for all Marines that have a non-infantry military occupational specialty.

After his 10 days home on leave after graduating, Contreras said he’s definitely ready for his next challenge. As a 3531, motor transport operator, Contreras will go to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. for training after Marine combat training, at the motor transport operator course.

“I expect Pvt. Contreras to go out and do great things in the Marine Corps,” said Rodriguez. “I see him being an outstanding Marine, wherever he gets stationed, possibly even getting meritoriously promoted. I think he’ll even make the Marine Corps into a career.”

Rodriguez said that since he became a recruiter, he’s had a number of applicants go down to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and “fight the transformation.”

“Now, boot camp has changed them all and they love what they’ve become,” said Rodriguez.