Low-key Marine finds structured life in Corps
By Cpl. Isis M. Ramirez
| | September 05, 2012
CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
Sgt. Lionel J. Flores III is laid back. In contrast to the many more extroverted personalities who walk the halls of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific headquarters building, his greeting could range from a silent nod to a short, quiet “good morning.”
But his easy-going attitude shouldn’t be confused with a lack of motivation for his job or the tasks at hand. He currently works as the maintenance management chief for the logistics section at Headquarters and Service Battalion, MarForPac.
“[I am the] middle man,” Flores said. “Every mechanic or technician coordinates with me. There are rules set forth by the maintenance management chief about calibration, modifications, how to conduct maintenance management business … my job is to keep everyone on track.”
Since being assigned to MarForPac, he has received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for leading his section through a spotless inspector-general’s inspection.
Along with a strong work ethic, his zen-like approach to life and willingness to give has led to success beyond his military career. He was recently recognized by the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii for his contributions in community service while working with local school children.
Despite these latest accolades, Flores will be the first to admit that his focus hasn’t always been channeled in the right direction.
Because his parents constantly moved from one side of town to the other, his mother helped him rent an apartment near his school when he was only 16 years old.
“Reality hadn’t set in at all,” Flores said. “I was living on my own already, working part time as a tax preparer at the beginning and end of the year, and picking up shifts at (the grocery store).”
Flores decided he didn’t want to have his mother worry about paying his rent, so he began working more hours. School hit the back burner. Eventually friends started to move in and his life became centered around parties, fun and earning money.
Flores failed his junior year of high school, which was his wake-up call. After making some adjustments, Flores was on his way toward graduation, and saw joining the military as his next big step.
He originally planned to enlist in the Air Force, but due to peer pressure from friends who were joining the Marine Corps, as well as the tenacity of a Marine recruiter, Flores eventually found himself on his way to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.
While boot camp was a complete culture shock to Flores, it was at the rifle range where he found his niche.
It happened early one morning, rifle in hand, as Flores repeated weapons safety rules with all of the other recruits.
With the slow and steady squeeze of a trigger on a loaded weapon, Flores’ life changed forever.
“That was the most nerve-wracked I’d ever felt,” said Flores. “I had never held a pistol or a gun. I had more responsibility than I thought I would ever have. I kind of pulled it together.”
Flores said that at that moment, he felt like he was becoming a man. He was learning to use a weapon the right way.
After 15 rifle and pistol expert shooting awards combined and deployments to Iraq, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Australia, every evolution has pulled from his ability to accept each new day’s challenge and focus on the things that need immediate attention.
Today, Flores continues to tackle obstacles while attending recruiting school and faithfully serves the organization he believes helped him become a man. Day by day, he quietly chooses to continue the career that drastically changed the course of his life.