By Julia LeDouxFebruary 1, 2013
Sgt. Monica Mendoza and Lance Cpl. Amilcar Marroquinsalinas have excelled during their time at Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. And now, their hard work and dedication to the Corps and their fellow Marines has led to further accolades and honors for the two leathernecks.
Mendoza, the non commissioned officer in charge to the Research and Civil Law Branch and the Judge Advocate Support Branch for the Judge Advocate Division, and Marroquinsalinas, a separations clerk and rifle bearer for the battalion color guard, topped off 2012 by being named the NCO of the Year and Marine of the Year for Henderson Hall.
"It's an honor for these Marines to earn this title," said 1st Sgt. Christopher Lillie, company first sergeant, Headquarters Company, H& S Bn.
In order to be selected as Henderson Hall's "best of the best" for 2012, Mendoza and Marroqunisalinas competed in a board against the battalion's other NCOs and Marines of the Quarter.
"I refreshed on Marine Corps knowledge for numerous hours," said Mendoza of her preparations for the board. "My staff sergeant put together a mock board to work on small details and corrections for [when] I appeared in front of the members."
Mendoza said the most challenging part of the board was the "anticipation, the over-preparing, worrying, striving for perfection, but once I was in front of the members of the board, it was go time."
She added that the one thing that surprised her were the opinion questions that were posed by the board. "Even the most basic question was challenged by the members," she said.
Mendoza, a native of Miami, Fla., enlisted in the Corps on Oct. 15, 2007 and attended basic training at Parris Island, S.C., where she graduated in the top 10 percent of the class and received the Molly Marine and Ironwoman awards.
"I joined the Marine Corps after seeing my brother coming back from his fourth deployment," she explained. "I saw his dedication and devotion to his work and the Corps and that inspired me to join and give back not only to my country, but to create relief on all those Marines that sacrifice so much of their life deploying."
Following recruit training and a meritorious promotion to private first class, Mendoza attended the Naval Justice School at Newport, R.I., where she graduated at the top of her class and was meritoriously promoted to lance corporal on May 2, 2008. She became the instructor's aide for the following class. On Sept. 12, 2008, she reported to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, where she was assigned to the legal assistance office and tax center. She was promoted to corporal Oct. 1, 2009 and became the military justice NCOIC. At the same time, she completed training to become a fixed-wing transport aircrew specialist.
Mendoza reported to Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 27, 2010 and was assigned to the western judicial circuit, where she worked as the clerk of court. In May 2011, Mendoza won the NCO of the quarter board for Camp Pendleton and the meritorious sergeant promotion board for MCI-West.
In addition, Mendoza deployed to Afghanistan with Female Engagement Team 12.1 in September 2011. She reported to Henderson Hall in October 2012.
"It means that I am doing my part as an NCO, leading Marines by example," Mendoza said of being named Henderson Hall's NCOY.
Marroquinsalinas, a native of Guatemala City, Guatemala, enlisted in the Marine Corps in June 2011 and attended basic training in San Diego, Calif.
"When I went to talk to the Marine Corps recruiter, who soon became my recruiter, he told me some valuable stuff that made me want to join. What I liked was that he said that the Marine Corps was the hardest branch due to their training and how strict they are. They are also the smallest branch," Marroquinsalinas said.
Following Marine Combat Training, Marroquinsalinas attended Personnel Administrative School in Camp Johnson, N.C., where he was one of the honor graduates and class leader. He was promoted to private first class in December 2011 and in January 2012 reported to Henderson Hall.
Marroquinsalinas said being named Marine of the Year is a big accomplishment in his career. "Also, it reminds me that hard work pays off," he said. "And to walk around knowing that I am Henderson Hall's Marine of the Year makes me feel like I accomplished my duties as a Marine."
Marroquinsalinas said he prepared himself mentally for the board and knew he had to be ready for anything.
"I was really anxious since this was my first MOY board, so I didn't know what it was going to consist of, but, like I said, I really wanted it. I wanted to be Henderson Hall MOY," he said.
Marroquinsalinas said he used his free time to "study knowledge, Marine net courses, and anything that could set me aside from my competition. What did surprise me and made it a challenge as well was the essay portion, because I believed that was what was going to set me aside from the rest of the Marines competing in the MOY board. I had to ask these questions to myself while preparing for the board, who wanted it more? Which Marine was hungriest?"
Marroquinsalinas also said the Marines in his shop assisted him in his quest to become Marine of the Year.
"I feel like I made them proud and represented the CONAD very well since I'm a direct reflection of them," he continued. "Even though being MOY was a big accomplishment, I would not stop there, I would continue to do great things and work hard because that is what being a Marine is."