MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
“Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.” This is one of the mantras heard hundreds of times in the Marine Corps. From the second Marines step on the yellow footprints, they are expected to learn how to adapt and overcome challenges and hardships.
Staff Sgt. Freddy Torres, the staff noncommissioned officer of Corporals’ Course and Lance Corporal Seminar for Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, uses his life experiences to help guide and mentor Marines into warfighters capable of adapting and overcoming any adversity they may encounter.
Torres, a native of Tucson, Arizona, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006 at the age of 18 as an infantryman. His enlistment came following 9/11, and the death of a Marine from his hometown, Lance Cpl. Joshua Lucero.
Now, Torres is an instructor for young Marines with H&S Bn, MCI-West, MCB Camp Pendleton. He is also a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Instructor Trainer.
“It is very rare to see an infantry Marine in this battalion,” said Torres. “I get to share my stories and my experiences. Not just mine, but what my brothers have gone through. I bring them in and I share those stories and give them those experiences, to define to these Marines that we’re still at war, there’s still things going on out there.”
From early on in his time as an infantryman, Torres held himself and his Marines to a higher standard, emulating the Marine Corps’ core values of honor, courage, and commitment. His passion for teaching and leading Marines started then.
“Being raised with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, and then moving forward to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, I’ve had great leadership and great Marines under me,” he said. “I’ve always been held to that higher expectation, so I feel that I need to do the same across the board, whether it’s my students, my own Marines, my own peers, or anybody above me. The expectation should always be higher.”
On Dec. 30, 2010, while deployed to Afghanistan with 3rd Bn., 5th Marines, Torres sustained two gunshot wounds to the leg. One of these shots hit his femoral artery, making his injuries life threatening. Today, he tells this specific story as a way to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and teach young Marines about the challenges they may face as they further their Marine Corps career.
Torres stresses in his lectures the importance of staying consistent as a Marine, not getting complacent and holding yourself to a higher standard. According to Torres, you never know when or where you’re going to have to pick up a rifle. It is important to hold every single Marine to, “every Marine a rifleman.”
Torres feels a sense of accomplishment and pride teaching these courses to the Marine Corps’ noncommissioned officers and junior Marines. He prepares them to be a better warfighter, capable of leading and educating when they return to their unit’s at the end of the course.
“At this point in my career, I think what I get back is the sense of accomplishment,” said Torres. “I see it through these students every single month, every single quarter. I know the Marine Corps is going to be in good hands when the time comes for me to take this uniform off.”