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U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Spendia T. Herrera, a distribution management chief at 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and her son, Carmelo, pose for a photo on Camp Shields, Okinawa, Japan, April 26, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Francesca Landis)

Photo by Cpl. Francesca Landis

Not just a machine – the story of a Marine mother in Okinawa

13 May 2021 | Cpl. Francesca Landis III Marine Expeditionary Force

Spendia T. Herrera, formerly Porter, stepped on the yellow foot prints of Parris Island, almost 12 years ago, and began her journey in the Marine Corps. Today, as a staff sergeant, she thrives as a Marine and as a single mother to her nine-year-old son, Carmelo.

Okinawa was her first duty station back in 2010. A decade later, she is back on Okinawa for a second time.

It was during her first tour in Okinawa that she met her ex-husband and became pregnant with her son.

“I met my husband and within three months I found out I was pregnant,” said Herrera. “That’s when my journey in the Marine Corps changed.”

Herrera explained that she and her ex-husband were married for ten years, and though their marriage came to an end, she doesn’t regret anything because it gave her Carmelo.

“Things just didn’t happen the way I wanted them to,” said Herrera. “But I think God has his reasons.”

As a single mother now, Herrera took responsibility for all the duties of being a parent. Being a mother and a Marine, the job never stops, said Herrera, and women need resilience to get through every day while thriving.

She said while running errands, making sure her child gets to school on time, picking him up from daycare and making dinner, she’s still focused on the next day. On top of all that, she’s still a Marine focused and resilient at being the best at her job.

“There are going to be days where it’s really bad,” said Herrera. “But you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Girlfriend, you better pick yourself up.’”

Every morning she does her hair and makeup, and puts her best effort forward knowing that she has to do what’s right for her son; he is my legacy, said Herrera.

“I get to see her in her uniform going to work every day, and it makes me happy,” said Carmelo. “She’s not only doing it for me, but she’s doing it to keep the world safe. She is one of the greatest moms I know, and I would do anything for her.”

Herrera said, to get through every day with the positive mindset she needs, she thinks about her goals and all the things that she needs to get done. That positive mindset, strengthened with support from her son and command, are followed by motivation to work harder.

Herrera currently works as the distribution management chief at 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade’s distribution management office. She said that the logistical part of her job is amazing, and she has loved working in distribution.

“Staff Sergeant Herrera always puts her best foot forward,” said Maj. Jeremy Schmidt, the deputy assistant chief of staff for G-4, 3D MEB. “She has an unabated positive attitude that is infectious. These attributes make her an amazing staff NCO and Marine, as well as a wonderful person.”

As a Marine, whether you’re married, single, male or female, you always have an opportunity to better yourself, and the learning never stops, said Herrera.

“I tell all the ladies, never stop and always stay beautiful because you’re a woman, regardless,” said Herrera. “You’re a Marine, but you’re a woman. Take care of yourself, and let’s keep going forward.”