MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- The Few. The Proud. The Marines. That recruiting slogan has enticed many young men and women to become part of something larger than themselves.
One young Marine who wanted to be part of the Corps' long standing history and tradition is Lance Cpl. Felix Cardoze, the Marine of the Quarter.
Cardoze, a Dickinson, N.D., native, competed against some of the base's most outstanding Marines Nov. 26 to earn the title for the first quarter of FY03.
The young leatherneck, was born in Colon, Panama. and came to the United States when he was about five months old. Eighteen years later, Cardoze stood on the famous yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot, San Diego, Calif.
Cardoze recalled that many things ran through his mind at that time, including the driving force of knowing that the title of Marine is not bestowed on everyone.
"It takes a special kind of person to be a Marine," said Cardoze, who now works in the Disbursing Office here taking care of other Marines' permanent-change-of-station and temporary-additional-duty travel claims.
Cardoze said he meets a lot of people from throughout the Corps in his job, and he enjoys learning about the work Marines do on base.
"You get to work with everyone from PMO [the Provost Marshal's Office] to admin," said Cardoze, who will begin taking college courses in the spring.
"It is important to continue your education," said Cardoze. "To be at the top of your game, you need knowledge. Going to school gives you that knowledge."
And knowledge is what gave Cardoze the advantage on this board, he said. Because the recent board was his second competition, Cardoze knew what he needed to do to win. At the previous board, Cardoze was extremely nervous, and he felt that the board members could sense that. When he stood before his second board, he was not as nervous, or he made sure no one could see it. He also said he maintained good eye contact with the board members and gave the best answers he could.
"If you studied, the questions should not have been difficult," said Cardoze.
One cannot help being intimidated, said Cardoze. Board members are made up of senior Marines with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Any junior Marine wants to perform well before their seniors.
"You are going to have butterflies no matter what, but you have to present yourself in a confident manner," said Cardoze.
Although Cardoze was recognized as the Marine of the Quarter, he sees his accomplishment as another learning experience. He felt that it was an honor to go up against some of the best Marines on base and to outshine the rest. Cardoze knows that anyone is capable of the board's recognition.
"If you maintain yourself to Marine Corps' standards, you are going to succeed," said Cardoze. He emphasized that maintaining the standards is a truism that is not confined to a Marine base.
According to Staff Sgt. Collier Smith, the finance chief here, Cardoze is extremely motivated and a very conscientious and responsible Marine. He demonstrates the ability to take charge of others and lead from the front. The Marine of the Quarter is always eager to take on additional duties and responsibilities.
Wherever Marines go, they must be prepared to represent themselves as a spokesperson for the Marine Corps. Even if while on leave, being a Marine does not end. A Marine must carry himself respectably at all times, said Cardoze.
For example, in Cardoze's home state of North Dakota, the Marine population is slim. Many North Dakotans have never seen a Marine in their lives. Cardoze feels he must present a positive image of the Corps for these people to have.
The last time Cardoze went home on leave, he wore his dress blues to the airport. He met a former Marine in the airport's lobby. A conversation struck and the old time leatherneck talked about what the Corps was like when he was on active duty. Cardoze said moments like those make him feel proud to wear the uniform. Just being able to rekindle the memories of an old leatherneck makes all his efforts to maintain the Corps' standards when he's in public worthwhile.
"You feel like you are making a difference by being a Marine," said Cardoze. "You are part of a long tradition and history."
After competing successfully for Marine of the Quarter honors, Cardoze looks forward to the rest of his Marine Corps experience. He wants to be able to look back and know that he is a better person after the Corps compared to when he first joined. He knows that the Marine Corps gives him the tools to build. In this case, Cardoze himself is the project, and he want make sure he finishes it well.
"I do believe with his dedication, Cardoze will be successful in whatever he chooses," said Smith.
But, as with any other Marine, the first thing he needs to do is to be ready if his number is called to fight.
"If my number is called, I know I will give 100 percent of what I have," said Cardoze.
And if he needs motivation, all he does is remember how he felt when he received the eagle, globe and anchor, and feeds off the feelings from that.