Family Strong, Like Father Like Daughter
June 30, 2008
When you think about a teenager joining the army you can envision the parent or parents taking their child to the airport to see them off to basic training. However, that was not the case with Mario and Gabrielle Alejandrino.
Gabrielle, 18 and now a high school graduate, has wanted to go to into the Army since she was a junior in high school. Her Mom, who lives in Coral Springs, Florida, was really against her going in to the Army due to everything going on in the world right now. She was scared to let her daughter go. Her father Mario Alejandrino, who lives in North Lauderdale with his daughter, was undecided; his decision could go either way. Due to the respect she has for her parents, she gave up on that idea and relentlessly began applying for Colleges; North Florida University, Central Florida University and Florida International University, just to name a few. Unfortunately she received and continued to receive letters telling her that she did not make it due to her SAT's scores. However, what those who are reading this do not realize is that Gabrielle graduated with three chords around her neck. One for having over 250 service hours, one for having a high GPA and one for being a Student Government Senator.
Mario Alejandrino was really concerned about his daughter's educational future. On Monday 25th, Mario, a mortgage broker, began to reflect on his life and his own experiences and actually thought about going into the Army himself. So he went into the Margate Recruiting Station to ask a few questions about benefits and education. There Mario took an EST (Enlistment Screening Test). He then called his daughter up and told her that he had also decided that he really wanted to go in the Army and what if they went together. Gabrielle was so excited and went after work to also take the EST. That same night and the next day Mario and his daughter discussed the pros and cons of going into the Army. The only cons they could both come up with were leaving her brothers, aunt and Mom and for Mario leaving his sons would be the most difficult. The Pros were that they would both have a great careers, health benefits, and educational benefits that would be beneficial to themselves and their families. After talking this out with each other it was time for Mario to go and talk to Gabrielle's Mom (Karina). After explaining the benefits, the education and the experience that the Army would provide for their daughter and after some convincing and comforting words, with the fact that he too was joining the Army, Karina's Mom gave the OK and expressed to Gabrielle how proud she was of her.
Gabrielle graduated from Coral Springs Charter High School on June 2, 2008 and on June 3, 2008 father and daughter took the ASVAB and then June 5, 2008 they both raised their right hand for the swearing-in ceremony. Not only was Mario and Gabrielle Alejandrino going to join the Army together but they were both going in as Signal Support System Specialists so that would mean they would be going to training together in Ft. Gordon. That in itself was a big relief to Mario. They would just need to get through Basic Training and then they would be together for 20 weeks of AIT (Advance Individual Training), training in their field, before going their separate ways for their first duty assignment. Mario was going to Ft. Benning for Basic Training and Gabrielle was going to Ft Jackson for Basic Training. However; while sitting with Mr. Roman, the Guidance Counselor at the Military Entrance Processing Station, a call was put in to the Recruiting Operations Center where Mr. Roman explained the circumstances of this father and daughter joining together and he was able to get Mario and Gabrielle to the same Basic Training in Ft. Jackson. They were elated to say the least and Mr. Roman, who is recently retired from the Army himself, said that it was a "very touching moment." When I asked Mario Alejandrino how he felt about being with his daughter for Basic Training and AIT Training he said that he was "very relieved" and when I asked Gabrielle how she felt she said, "It gives me a sense of security."
Mario plans on making the Army his career and Gabrielle also is hoping that this is something that she will like enough to retire. If not when it is time for her to get out she will come out with a degree and will be able to work at places like Microsoft or Dell and also continue her education which will be paid for by the Army. When asked if they were worried about the possibilities of going to Iraq Gabrielle said, "I am more nervous about going to boot camp then the possibility of going to Iraq." Mario said, "I am fine with going to do what I have to do; this is my career not my job."
So, on June 26, 2008 Mario will not be bringing his daughter to the airport to go to Basic training like the usual Dad (or Mom) would be; he will be joining his daughter in an experience of a lifetime; the Army.