Lance Cpl. Amaia Unanue graduates
the broadcasting course at the
Defense Information School, Fort
Meade, Maryland. February, 2016.
Cpl. Amaia Unanue captures a helicopter
through the lens of her camera in the
middle of shooting a video at Ie Shima.
Okinawa, Japan in 2016.
Fifteen years later, I was just starting my second
year at a community college in Avon Park,
Florida, when I heard my calling. I was unsure
of what direction I was going in with my
education and I began researching the
branches of the military. The obvious choice
was to join the Army because of my family’s
history, but once I learned more about the
Marine Corps I was drawn a different direction.
My family was very supportive and encouraged
me to make the best choice for me. The challenge
the Marine Corps presented and the manner in
which the recruiters conducted themselves
compared to other branches led me to join the
few and the proud.
Cpl. Amaia Unanue prepares to shoot
an M4 carbine rifle during training
aboard USS Ashland (LSD 48)
during a 3-month patrol of the
Indo-Asia-Pacific region. July, 2017.
By Cpl. Amaia Unanue, USMC
For as long as I could remember I knew that one day
I’d join the military. At four years old, I watched
with admiration as my mother, Staff Sgt. Evelyn
Colon, strapped on her black combat boots at the
break of dawn and walked out the door in a gallant uniform
that looked so out of place against the background of
our suburban neighborhood in Caguas, Puerto Rico. A
large picture of my father, Specialist Jose Ignacio Unanue,
sitting on a fence during Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia
at the age of 21 hung in the hallway of our small home.
I remember looking at his cool, composed pose in a
gloomy desert area and thinking no one else could be
so cool. Both, my mother and father, joined the Army
from Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.
I remember one of the tipping points in my decision-making process was my
Spanish-speaking grandmother, Barbara Sepulveda, telling me she wanted
me to join ‘los del anuncio que tienen las espadas y los uniformes bonitos,’
meaning “the ones from the commercial with the swords and the good-looking
uniforms.” Making my family proud was always important to me.
Today, I am a mass communicator with III Marine Expeditionary Force in
Okinawa, Japan. My experiences on this tiny island south of mainland Japan
have impacted me more than anything else in my life. This is where I learned
other countries’ cultures like Japan, Korea, Guam and Australia. This is
where I developed as a photojournalist, videographer and storyteller.
This is where I matured as a Marine, from a lance corporal to a sergeant. This
is where I met my husband, Thor Larson, and this is where I will give birth
to my daughter, May 31, 2018.
Though the journey here has been extremely challenging, I’ll never regret
joining the Marine Corps. I’m proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished
and how much I’ve grown as a person through these past three years. Not
only am I thankful for my supportive family back in Florida and Puerto
Rico, but also for the Marines I’ve grown alongside of.
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Latina Letters From the Front!
Pfc. Amaia Unanue graduates Marine Corps boot
camp, April 2015. Her brother, Arnaitz Unanue, left,
and mother, Evelyn Colon, show their support by
wearing 4th Battalion, Unanue’s battalion, attire.
34 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle Vol. 24, No. 2, 2018