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Marine retires from rare LDO billet

By Pamela Jackson | | May 19, 2011

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In its 235-year history, one of the most popular recruitment pitches in the United States Marine Corps is “The few, the proud, the Marines.”  The same truism applies to the few Marines who hold the position of a limited duty officer. The term does not refer to their authority, but rather the career progression and restrictions LDOs have.

Capt. Pedro Gomez, deputy director, Supply Integration Division, Supply Management Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, is one of only three military personnel here who hold the coveted title of LDO, one that requires persistence, drive and dogged determination to succeed.

Gomez, a native of Blythe, Calif., graduated from  Palo Verde High School in 1987 and joined the Marine Corps right after graduation.  He said he was determined to make it as far as his dreams would take him.

“My grandfather was a colonel in the Mexican army and I vividly remember watching the Marine Corps commercials at the young age of five.  I knew from that point on that I wanted to be a Marine and was determined to make that dream a reality,” he said.  “Even as a small boy and into my teens, I would always tuck my shirt in, made sure my belt buckle was properly aligned on my pants,  keep my hair cut low and would always walk upright.  I was already programmed and structured for this career at an early age.  I was born to be a Marine.”

Gomez enlisted in the Marine Corps and went to recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif.  From there, he went to military occupational speciality school at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., where he earned an MOS of 2111, small arms repairman.  His first assignment was with the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C. and since that time, he is one of only a few Marines who have progressed through the enlisted to warrant officer and to officer ranks.

“During my 24-year career, I was promoted nine times and completed a total of nine major deployments.  During my time as an enlisted Marine, I managed weapons storage areas and to be more competitive for promotions, I requested and was given orders to serve as a drill instructor,” he said.  “While in the drill field, I was promoted to staff sergeant, my company was the first to take recruits through the Crucible and took on the challenge to train the former heavyweight champion of the world, Riddick Bowe.”

Gomez said unfortunately Bowe quit after three days of training. Upon completion of his tour on the drill field, he was presented a certificate of appreciation by retired Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Alfred Gray.

 “I did everything I was told to do to make myself more competitive for promotion.  I went to college, earned a few awards and served in a B-billet. In 2000, I was selected as an infantry repair officer,” he said.  “I was sent back to Okinawa and Aberdeen Proving Ground - as a warrant officer.”

Gomez was promoted through the ranks to chief warrant officer three and served as an instructor at the Ground Ordnance School, Aberdeen Proving Ground.  His job was to ensure the Marine Corps and Army curriculum and program of instructions were up to date - a curriculum taught to him many years before that. 

While there, he applied and was selected to the LDO program because of his knowledge and expertise in his field.

“Once I pinned on captain in June 2005, I was no longer the instructor, but the curriculum officer for the Marine side of the house.  During my time there, my team and I revamped the program to include more scenario-based instruction and assisted in developing the first road map to assist young Marines on their career progression,” he said.  “Before I left, I was the executive officer for the school.”

From there, Gomez was assigned as the company commander for Ordnance Company at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., but after only three months, he was re-assigned to two seven-month back-to-back tours at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, from August 2006 - April 2007 and again with Combat Logistics Battalion from February - September 2008.

Based on information provided, a limited duty officer is selected from the ranks of chief warrant officer and is based on the applicant’s technical expertise and skill in a limited number of military occupational specialties. Selectees are promoted from the warrant officer ranks to captain, with no further promotion potential. 

Call it euphoria or serendipity, but LDO’s are then placed where it is desirable to have an officer with strong, specific technical knowledge and seasoned leadership.  “Ironically, I was stationed here in 1991 as a corporal, so it was kind of bittersweet to return as a captain in December 2008,” he said. 

Gomez was officially retired during a ceremony held in front of the Base Conference Center, May 11, after 24 years of active military service.  The retiring officer was Col. Ben Braden, chief of staff, Logistics Command.

“I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life.  I’m planning to work with the Junior Reserved Officer’s Training Program in Monterey County, Calif.  I’m bilingual and there is a need in the area and a few openings,” he said.  “I want to show them what they can become despite their low income levels.  If I can do it, they can too.”

Gomez said he will miss the camaraderie and family unit within the Corps the most.

“Part of my career was spent teaching, mentoring and training young Marines and sharing my skills and expertise with them.  I felt it was my obligation and duty to give back because they are the future of the Corps,” he said.

Braden said Gomez is a poster officer and one he considers the best. 

“He served in the spirit of the Marine Corps Hymn, first to fight for right and freedom ... He has done what the Corps has asked him to do and has endured some tough leadership roles from commanding to leading Marines in combat to sending wounded troops home,” he said.  “Only the best become drill and MOS instructors to teach the next generation.”

Marine Administrative Message 385/10 outlines the requirements for selection as an LDO and individuals selected must complete a three year service obligation upon acceptance of their appointment and 10 years commission time.

Additional information on the LDO program is available online at www.marines.mil by searching for Secretary of the Navy Instruction 1412.9B and Marine Corps Order 1040.42A. 

Interested Marines should contact their career retention specialist.


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