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U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jonathan Mendozacorona and Pfc. Yessica Mendozacorona of Recruiting Sub Station Lexington, Recruiting Station Columbia, pose for a photo at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, Jan. 7, 2022. Mendozacorona, now the staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge for RSS Lexington, enlisted and prepared his younger sister, Pfc. Mendozacorona, to become a U.S. Marine. (Courtesy photo by Mendozacorona family)

Photo by Cpl. Dylan Walters

Brother and sister in arms

24 May 2022 | Cpl. Dylan Walters 6th Marine Corps District

LEXINGTON, S.C.-- Staff Sgt. Jonathan Mendozacorona reflects on the process of his sister, Pfc. Yessica Mendozacorona, enlisting and achieving her goal of becoming a United States Marine.

“It was crazy that I got to see and had a part in the whole process,” said Mendozacorona. “From helping her enlist, to helping her train while she was a poolee, to watching her march across the parade deck.”

Mendozacorona, the station commander for Recruiting Sub Station Lexington with Recruiting Station Columbia, was determined to help his sister get to boot camp so she could become the first female in his family to serve in the military.

“Most applicants have a very easy enlistment but not her,” said Mendozacorona. “When I found out my sister was finally going to boot camp, it was like a weight lifted off our shoulders.”

Although his sister faced many challenges in her enlistment process because of her citizenship status, she was still able to ship out to boot camp.

“This whole process just solidified why I wanted to be a recruiter,” said Mendozacorona. “You have to care. It's not just caring because it's your sister or sibling; you have to give that same level of care and support to everyone who wants that same challenge.”

When asked how often he would write letters to his sister, Mendozacorona said, “I would write to her all the time.” He added, “I would send her motivational things, prayers, pictures, and remind her how far she’s come.”

Recalling how it was seeing his sister after graduating recruit training Mendozacorona said, “You could see it in her face how proud she was to accomplish something of this magnitude.”

Pfc. Yessica Mendozacorona is currently attending the ground supply military occupational specialty school at Camp Johnson, North Carolina.

“It felt great. I finally did it. All the pain and struggle was worth being able to call myself a Marine,” said Pfc. Mendozacorona. “There were times that I told myself, ‘I can’t do this.’ I had to just keep reminding myself why I wanted this and what it meant to me.”

After graduating from recruit training, Pfc. Mendozacorona recalled how her family reacted to seeing her in dress blues for the first time.

“My parents were so proud. They had their doubts originally because I had waited so long, but they were so happy that I finally did it,” said Pfc. Mendozacorona. “My mom was so happy to see me in uniform and finally be able to say her daughter is a Marine.”

Pfc. Mendozacorona reminisced on how it felt knowing that she was standing on the same yellow footprints her brother stood on over six years ago.

“Standing on the same yellow footprints as my brother felt scary. I realized that this is really happening,” said Pfc. Mendozacorona. “My brother stood here, and he has gone so far in his career. Now it is time for me to start mine.”

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