I had always considered the military, but not necessarily
the Marines. However, after watching my high school
boyfriend grow in confidence and maturity as a Marine
military policeman, I decided to visit a Marine Corps recruiter
in Mission Viejo, California. I felt a calling to enlist, but
my mom encouraged me to think about my decision first.
After graduating high school and starting community
college, I still felt that calling. I felt like I needed to venture
outside my cocoon to develop the self-confidence and
self-assurance I would need to be successful. Finally, I
enlisted and shipped to recruiting training at Marine
Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, in 2010.
I joined with an intelligence contract, lost it during basic
training due to issues with my security screening, and
eventually became a combat correspondent, or a military
photojournalist and videographer.
I joined the Marine Corps in search of a challenge, and
challenge is what I received. During basic training and
in my early Marine Corps years, I struggled to conform to the
Marine Corps standards and lifestyle while simultaneously
learning about myself. The Marine Corps is the most
physically demanding of the branches of service, which
was difficult for someone without much of an athletic
background. The blunt, uncompromising culture also
presented difficulty for someone, such as myself, who had
been raised – almost coddled – by a very loving mother.
By Staff Sgt. Laura Gauna, USMC
Eight years ago, I began the journey toward
discovering the person I have become. I
am the daughter of a strong Latina mother,
who loved me unconditionally and created a
happy environment for my younger sister and me.
My mother maintained a positive atmosphere and
shielded me from circumstances that could have
been sad or dispiriting to someone without the
benefit of a protector and provider such as herself.
However, I eventually sensed that the time had come
for me to pave my own way in life.
Staff Sgt. Laura Gauna and her team after completing a
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain exercise in Yuma,
Arizona, Oct. 19, 2011. Her team was the one to take
down the simulated enemy forces.
I soon realized that for me to be successful, I would
have to adapt my nurturing personality to the culture of
the Corps. Now as a staff sergeant, I’ve learned to retain
my natural upbeat disposition without allowing my
subordinates to mistake kindness for weakness. I learned
this trait from Gunnery Sgt. Lynn Kinney, a fellow
Latina who served as a mentor for me at Marine Corps
Base Camp Pendleton in California. I also draw inspiration
from my husband Jimmy Gauna, a former Marine staff
sergeant. He was a technically proficient, physically fit
Marine who always pushed me in my Marine Corps career.
Today, even as a proud wife and the mother of two
beautiful children, I’m still learning more about myself.
After this enlistment, I plan on resuming my education
and working toward my childhood dream of becoming a
wildlife rehabilitator. I don’t know what the future
holds, but I’ll always be a proud Marine who is optimistic
about the future.LS
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Latina Letters From the Front!
Staff Sgt. Laura Gauna with husband, Jimmy, with their two kids,
Noah and Mia, at a Café in Okinawa, Japan, October 2, 2017.
34 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle Vol. 24, No. 3, 2018