MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Postal workers across the nation deliver a crucial but overlooked service to America and it’s citizens. These individuals are tasked with delivering mail and packages six days a week, rain or shine, ensuring you get your monthly bills and Walmart coupons. Marine postal clerks are no different, and some like Sgt. Cameron Rios serve what some would call a higher purpose.
Born in 1992 in Kansas City, Kansas, Rios grew up accustomed to the military lifestyle. His father served in the Air Force which led to him moving around a lot, spending seven years of his life in Oklahoma and another 11 in Georgia. At the age of 19, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2011, giving major credit for this decision to his father.
“Due to my dad being in the military, he heavily influenced me to join the military,” said Rios. “I chose the Marine Corps because I wanted to challenge myself. I felt I had a bigger purpose in life, and the Marine Corps gave me that chance to be apart of something bigger and make a difference in people’s lives.”
After completing his entry-level training and schooling, Rios received orders to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in 2012, starting his career as a postal Marine with Combat Logistics Regiment 27. After a year of performing his duties, he deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 with Combat Logistics Regiment 2 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During his deployment, his main mission was to receive and deliver mail via convoys to forward operating bases across his area of operation.
During this time, it was when both the significance of his job and the higher purpose he was seeking came to light.
“When you‘re forward deployed, and Marines are stressed and fatigued from any combat scenarios they may be experiencing, anytime they get their mail, they always leave with a smile on their face,” said Rios. “Seeing them take their letter and walk away smiling, there’s no better feeling. You know that you made their day.”
His experiences as a junior Marine helped him realize that his purpose is to make a difference in peoples’ lives. In addition to his job, he was afforded another opportunity to impact Marines in a different way.
“Sergeant Rios is an excellent leader who constantly looks out for the welfare of his Marines,” said Sgt. Chandler Bunn, a fellow postal clerk who’s worked with Rios in the same office for the past two years. “As a person, he has an outstanding set of morals that make him an individual that many want to look up to. He always looks for what’s best for the group rather than himself.”
Upon returning from his deployment, he then volunteered for Marine Security Guard duty in 2014, serving in Portugal, Pakistan and Morocco. While on MSG duty, he earned his Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor and Instructor-Trainer certifications, giving him tools to affect a wider variety of Marines other than those that work directly under him.
“I was fortunate enough to earn my MAI and MAIT tabs on MSG, which just gave me another method of teaching and mentoring Marines and helping them better themselves, both as Marines and as men and women,” said Rios.
When his time on MSG duty concluded, he received orders to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton where he re-familiarized himself with his primary job, and now focuses on training and mentoring his Marines in any way possible. Whether it’s showing a Marine how to sort mail, or how to execute an arm bar, Rios’ passion for teaching and making a difference is clear as day to those around him.
“Since I’ve been in, I’ve had no better feeling than molding, mentoring and training Marines,” said Rios. “The satisfaction you get from them saying that you’ve helped them out in some way, that feeling is priceless.”