CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN- --
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN- The bright Okinawa sun splits the ocean’s horizon line as it sets over Chatan City. Petty Officer 2nd Class Nancy Guillermo, pulls her long dark brown hair into a tight pony tail. She takes a knee on the coarse asphalt to lace up her pink and grey running shoes in preparation for her routine evening jog.
For Guillermo, a religious program specialist with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, this daily routine is part of her annual training for the 26.2 mile Marine Corps marathon that is held yearly in October.
In 2018, Guillermo ran the marathon for the first time in order to celebrate her first year working as a Fleet Marine Force Sailor.
“I ran marathons before enlisting in the Navy,” said Guillermo, a native of Queens, New York. “It was my first year with the Marines, and I thought it would be a cool way to remember that.”
Halfway through the marathon runners come upon the blue mile, which, according to Guillermo is the motivating point for runners to push through their exhaustion.
“The blue mile is dedicated to service members that have died,” said Guillermo. “People running the marathon can sponsor a fallen service member. Then, during the blue mile you see an image of that member and a flag next to their picture. This year, I plan to represent a fallen service member when I run the marathon again.”
As an FMF Sailor, Guillermo is constantly working side-by-side with Marines. Prior to going ‘green-side’, she was working on the U.S.S. Arlington (LPD-24) where she interacted with strictly Sailors.
Though she was able to travel the world while aboard the U.S.S Arlington, Guillermo found that she craved a new experience.
Being FMF allows for many different experiences and opportunities that Sailors wouldn't receive while being ‘blue-side’, from knowing the Marines daily tasks, throwing a grenade, shooting on a rifle range and so much more, according to Guillermo.
“My first experience on a rifle range was during typhoon season, so it was pouring rain,” said Guillermo. “On ship, it has to be perfect weather conditions to shoot. So, at the rifle range, I looked around as the heavy rain beat against us and said, ‘Oh, so this is getting canceled?’ All the Marines laughed at me. They said, ‘No, that doesn’t happen.’ I remember just sitting there thinking, ‘Well, welcome to the Marine Corps.’”
Remembering his first interaction with Guillermo, Sgt. Daniel Davis an automotive maintenance technician with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, cracks a smile as he recounts his initial impression of her.
“She earned not just my respect, but that of everyone else in Sergeant’s Course,” said Davis, a native of Frankfort, Michigan. “Her dedication and willingness to push herself beyond the Navy standard was impressive.”
While participating in Sergeant’s Course, Guillermo felt her green-side roots beginning to take place. She learned Marine Corps history, conducted drill and trained alongside Marines in combat scenarios.
“Leading up to drill evaluation she would go out and practice every day,” said Davis. “She was constantly asking different sergeants to help her and taking the initiative to better herself in areas she knew she wasn’t the strongest. She is the epitome of what we as Marines, Sailors and people in general should aspire to be like.”
According to Guillermo, Sergeant's Course was a great experience. It allowed her to connect more to the Marines and create lasting friendships that continued on even after everyone went back to their own commands.
“If you can be honest, take care of them, and show them that you’ve got their back, they will welcome you with open arms,” said Guillermo. “That’s one thing I really do like about Marines. Once they welcome you into their pack, that’s it. You’re one of their own. They’ll take care of you no matter what.”
Continuing on with her FMF career, Guillermo will be leaving Okinawa later this year to serve as a religious program specialist at Marine Barracks, Washington D.C., also referred to as 8th and I.
"Being an FMF Sailor is a rewarding experience.” said Guillermo. “Even though Marines sometimes mistake me for a 'doc', they're still some of the best people to be around."