QUANTICO, Va. --
The phrase to “start anew” is not foreign to most Marines. From changing duty stations to adjusting to a new rank or billet, Marines share this commonality through the multitude of transitions each one faces. With each transition, a Marine’s means to find a solution to potential obstacles becomes ever more paramount. Whether it requires receiving guidance as a mentee or conversely giving it as mentor, one such Marine has filled both roles.
Former first sergeant, Alberto Andino, commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, at Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, in Quantico, Virginia, March 31. Andino became the fourth first sergeant. in Marine Corps history to complete the Corps’ officer candidate school and commission as an officer through the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program.
From the outset, Andino recognized the importance in finding purpose when overcoming the learning curve as he transitioned between the enlisted and officer rank echelons.
"...Your heart must be in the right place, and it becomes not about you, but rather it’s about serving your Marines..." 2nd Lt. Alberto Andino, Marine Corps Embassy Security Group
“It is not a demotion,” said Andino. “At the same time, you are not better than your enlisted counterpart by any means. If you’re going to do the transition, do it because your heart is in the right place and because you want to serve Marines. Because you want that piece of executive authority that’s going to allow you to command Marines – maybe even in combat. You might have their lives in your hands knowing that you have an edge on an individual that comes straight from college because you’ve been there and done that. You’ve been to Parris Island or the depot. You know how your Marines feel but, at the same time, you are going to need to get the skills, knowledge and abilities required to become a commissioned officer and a leader.”
As one of four first sergeants in Marine Corps history to undertake this program, Andino acknowledged the rarity of observing the fruits of his labor throughout the training process.
“If not for deciding to become an officer, I would have been looked at for sergeant major,” he said. “Going into OCS, the sergeant instructors were all junior to me. Some of them were my drill instructors that I helped train when I was a chief drill instructor. Most people ask, ‘How are you gonna get yelled at by somebody that’s junior to you?’ I tell them it’s a blessing. I had a piece in that. He’s going up and raising the bar both in rank and responsibility and I had a piece in that, whereas now he trains me. That says something about me, and I was happy. That motivates me.”
Photo by Cpl. Desmond Andrews
Former first sergeant, Alberto Andino, swears in during his commissioning as a second lieutenant at Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, in Quantico, Va., March 31, 2021. Andino became the fourth first sergeant in Marine Corps history to complete the Corps’ officer candidate school and commission as an officer through the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program.
Through trials and tribulations that can come up in a Marine’s career, Andino hones in on the quintessential element of staying true to oneself.
“There’s going to be a lot of obstacles transitioning from a senior enlisted to commissioned officer,” said Andino. “Some would argue that your sphere of responsibilities become smaller. I argue otherwise, whereas the biggest thing in overcoming those challenges is through genuine concern for your Marines and being humble. Your heart must be in the right place, and it becomes not about you, but rather it’s about serving your Marines. Whether I’m doing it with first sergeant or second lieutenant chevrons on or even being a civilian Marine, it doesn’t really matter to me as long as I’m giving back to the institution that has given me so much.”
For more information about the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, visit https://www.mcrc.marines.mil/Marine-Officer/Officer-Naval-Enlisted-Applicants/