OKINAWA, Japan -- The Marine Corps is known for several things, two of them being its role as the world’s finest fighting force and for recruiting some of the most motivated individuals in the world. They recruit potential applicants from all aspects of life. Some join alone and others tend to join in groups.
Sgt. Gregorio Palacios, Cpl. David Rodriguez and Cpl. Robert “Bobby” Lozano, all currently active-duty Marines stationed in Okinawa, Japan, joined the Marine Corps in 2013. Once joining, the trio never imagined they would eventually be stationed in a foreign country together.
The three friends grew up together in Los Fresnos, Texas, and met during middle school.
“We are all currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and it’s great,” said Palacios, the 3rd Marine Division sergeant major’s driver, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Before Lozano deployed with the 31st MEU [31st Marine Expeditionary Unit], we hung out every weekend. We never get tired of each other.”
The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ only continuously deployed Marine expeditionary unit, according to the Marine Corps.
“I was the one that kind of brought the group together,” said Palacios. “I met both Bobby and David in different ways and once we all started to hangout we were inseparable.”
According to Palacios, the three went to Los Fresnos high school together until Palacios moved to another district. Nevertheless, the friends continued to hangout every weekend.
The Marine Corps was never something the three friends envisioned they would be doing together. In fact, it was a last-minute decision for most, according to Rodriguez, a field wireman with the Division.
“I talked to the recruiter first, and David was trying to talk me out of it,” said Palacios smiling at the memory. “He told me the Marine Corps was going to brainwash me, and I was like nope I’m going to do it.”
Rodriguez then made the decision the very next day to join the Marine Corps as well, according to Palacios.
“He called me the very next day, and I could hear his mother in the background saying don’t do it and he was like I’m going to join too man,” said Palacios. Cpl. Lozano followed in the footsteps of his two best friends and also signed up.
Though they went to recruit training at different times, they all continued to stay in touch with each other and Palacios and Rodriguez both ended up stationed in California for their military occupational specialty schools before coming to Japan to operate in the III Marine Expeditionary Force.
III MEF is the "Tip of the Spear,” continuously forward deployed maintaining Pacific peace and stability for the United States and its Allies.
“I already love Okinawa because it is a great place to be stationed and with both of my childhood friends here, it makes it that much better,” said Rodriguez.