VETERANS’ CORNER: US Marine Shares Stories

By Earl M. Ward
Staff Writer

Mario Puente was in the U.S. Marine Corps for five years and one month — not that he was counting. In his time in the Marines, he did a tour in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Puente said he was trained as a radio repair tech. But during his tour in Iraq, he was assigned into an Infantry Unit, in which he went out on patrols with his team and ran security for their compound.
When asked what he did in his free time, Puente said, “What free time?” and smiled. “We did have a kind of gym that I worked out in and jogged around the inside of the compound when I could,” he said.
During his tour in Afghanistan, Puente worked in his field as a radio repair tech. “Again, not a whole lot of free time to do much of anything,” he said.
Puente has been out of the Corps since May of 2011 and started at Brookhaven College in August to work on his associate in science degree so he can attend the University of Texas at Dallas and major in the medical field.
“I want a career that I enjoy working in and can stay in  until I retire,” Puente said. “Something different than what I was doing in the Corps for the last five years.” He expressed a desire to advance himself in life.
“During my out-of-school time, I love to jog, work out at the gym and swim when I can,” Puente said. “I enjoy taking my wife out to a movie and then dinner. We like taking our two dogs out to one of the dog parks close to our home.”
Puente said the hardest thing about leaving the Corps was “not having the military support group that we have on active duty. In civilian life, you’re kind of on your own.”
“Other than family and other veterans, no one has your back.”