By Sgt. Walter D. Marino II, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego — Navajo code talkers used their language to assist Marines in every Marine assault from 1942 – 1945. Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Iwo Jima are to name a few. Now over 65 years later, their descendants are carrying on their tradition of military duty with the Marine Corps.
Recruit Florentino A. Buck, Platoon 1050, Charley Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, has three great grandfathers who were Navajo code talkers. Buck said once he learned of his great grandfathers legacy, he was immediately inspired to follow in their footsteps.
Buck is the youngest of eight siblings and said although his family pushed him to do something great with his life, he had no idea what he wanted to do until the day he learned his family’s history.
“Hearing their story made me feel good and filled me with a lot of pride,” said the 22-year-old Buck. “I decided to join the Marines and give it a shot. Since then it’s all I’ve really wanted to do.”
As a recruit, Buck isn’t the strongest or loudest but that doesn’t stop him from giving his all and helping others.
“I like helping others in my platoon,” said Buck, a Shiprock, N.M, native. “Our drill instructors are always talking about taking care of the people to your left and right because they are your brothers and sisters; even people who aren’t Marines. The platoon says I motivate them because I have gotten the most intensely trained for helping the platoon.”
Although his drill instructors haven’t noticed him as their strongest or best marcher, they have noticed his determination.
“He has a lot of heart. He never quits,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas A. Carrel, senior drill instructor, Platoon 1050. “Heart is everything. He keeps pushing until he gets through. He has a lot of pride in himself and his heritage. The Navajo code talkers were brave for what they did and there is no doubt in my mind Buck will carry on the honorable service that his grandfathers did.”
Buck admits recruit training is difficult, but said he hopes that by graduating recruit training he will inspire other Navajo from his hometown just as his great grandfathers inspired him.
He explained he knows many from his tribe who aren’t going to school or working and still live at home and wishes his story shows them that if he can do it so can they.
“It’s up to the individual to do something with their lives. I just hope that by doing something positive it inspires others back home to do the same,” said Buck. “If you focus on problems you’ll get more problems. If you focus on possibilities you get more opportunities.”