Quantico honors Marine recruiter as best at finding the best
By RUSTY DENNEN | The (Fredericksburg, Va.) Free Lance-Star | Published: March 8, 2012
On a recent afternoon outside the area Marine Corps recruiting office, a group of young men was preparing to take a training run with Staff Sgt. Estil Martecollado.
Martecollado wants to make sure his "poolees"--recruits bound for boot camp--are in the best possible physical shape when they arrive.
Martecollado knows a thing or two about what makes a good Marine: He was recently named Recruiter of the Year during a ceremony at Marine Corps Base Quantico.
At a time when the military is trimming its ranks, and with fewer slots available in the Marine Corps, "We're looking for the whole package. They have to be smart, and they have to be fit," Martecollado said.
Recruits have to do well on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery Test, and be fit enough to make it through the rigorous physical training of boot camp at Paris Island, S.C.
"We've got plenty of applicants willing to enlist, but we want to find the best," Martecollado said.
With the war in Iraq over, and significant drawdowns expected in Afghanistan by next year, active and reserve Marine forces will number about 221,700 in 2017. That's about 8.3 percent below current levels, according to the most recent budget figures.
Martecollado figures he has signed up between 55 and 60 recruits since he began working as a recruiter two years ago. About twice as many did not make it through, he said.
Most recruits are just out of high school or in their early 20s.
Military recruiters saw a spike in interest following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and with the buildup in Iraq and Afghanistan. The recession also prompted would-be job-seekers to consider the military.
Martecollado says recruits have lots of reasons for joining.
"It's what we represent; the Marine Corps is the top challenge. It's our tradition, our brotherhood, and it's tough physically. Mostly, what we hear a lot is they want to serve their country."
Martecollado is still in touch with the first Marine he recruited.
"And I keep in touch with my recruiter from nine years ago," he said. "It is personal, because you spend so much time together."
One of Martecollado's recruits was Nathan Javaras, whom he first met when Javaras was a 17-year-old Chancellor High School senior.
Javaras wanted not only to be a Marine, like his father and grandfather, but to follow in his father's footsteps as a percussionist in a Marine Corps band. Martecollado helped get him into the exclusive music program. Javaras finished boot camp last fall.
Martecollado is one of five recruiters at the office on State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County. Part of the job, he said, is connecting with potential recruits in the community.
"It's rewarding to work with such a diverse group of young men to give them a good start. It's a solid foundation, if you ask me."
Last fall, recruiters in his office took part in a teen-violence-awareness run at Courtland High School. The run was in memory of Baron P. Braswell II, a varsity football player at the school who was stabbed in the heart by another teen in January 2006.
Martecollado, 33, was born in the Dominican Republic. His family moved to the Bronx in New York City when he was 14. He attended the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, then decided to join the Marines in 2003.
"I did not see myself progressing, and wanted to better myself at the time," he said. "I was looking for more discipline, more drive. I heard the Marine Corps had that."
Stationed at Quantico, he worked in supply. Two years ago, he was chosen to join the recruiting office in Spotsylvania.
He competed with other recruiters across the Marine Corps to win the top honor.
"I found out I won the day of the ceremony," he said. He was judged on a year of work, along with other criteria such as knowledge of the Corps.
"I didn't set out to do it. I did my job. And all that doesn't happen without great leadership--not just my work, but people over top of me making sure I was using all my knowledge to the best of my ability."
He intends to go back to the fleet when his three-year stint as a recruiter ends.
"I'd love to use the tools I learned here in mentoring young Marines."
The Marine Corps Recruiting Command has about 3,100 recruiters operating out of 48 recruiting stations, 616 substations, 25 prior-service sites and 72 officer-selection sites across the 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam.
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