SIERRA DEL RETIN, ES -- Cpl. Marcos Taveras is a Spanish speaking combat veteran who claims Rhode Island as his home.
The 31-year-old Richmond native serves as a mortarman with Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He fires mortars at enemy positions to provide indirect fire support. A job he performed with the battalion in Afghanistan during a seven-month-long deployment in 2010, prior to the battalion attaching to the 24th MEU as its BLT.
“We were taking contact literally every day,” he said. “I would say I was directly in maybe eight firefights, in addition to constant indirect fire support missions.”
Taveras emigrated from the Dominican Republic at 8 years old with his parents and traveled to New York. There, he moved between Rochester, the Bronx, and Manhattan. He graduated from George Washington High School in Manhattan and then moved to Richmond in 1999.
Taveras held a few different jobs before working as a forklift operator for Coventry Lumber for seven years. He said he had always dreamed of being a Marine, but supporting his family had to come first.
“I always wanted to be a Marine, but I never had the chance to join before,” he said. “I was working, my wife was going to college, and I had too much going on.”
Taveras enlisted in the Marine Corps at 28 years old after his wife finished college.
“I wanted to be with the Marines because they are the toughest and I wanted to see if I could do it,” he said.
He served as a translator, April 16, in Sierra Del Retin, Spain, during bi-lateral tactics training between the 24th MEU and the Spanish Marine Corps. His ability to speak Spanish served as a valuable asset the Marines of his company by allowing them to converse with the Spanish Marine Corps through him.
“I was one of the people communicating with their platoon sergeants and commanders during the training,” he said. “They felt really comfortable with me and I felt comfortable because I was using my first language.”
He, along with the rest of the 24th MEU and Navy's Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, is embarked on a deployment currently planned for eight months. The 24th MEU, partnered with the Iwo Jima ARG, is currently deployed as a theater reserve and crisis response force capable of a variety of missions from full-scale combat operations to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
“It’s a different kind of experience; the leadership and brotherhood you experience here,” he said. “You get so close to your Marines, the camaraderie is ridiculous.”
Taveras said he is looking forward to the rest of the deployment, and plans to use the experience he gains from it to pursue his two other dreams.
“My next goals are to gain my citizenship and become a Rhode Island State Trooper,” he said.