Jonathan Retana

Lance CPL Retana tells us of his love for God, country, and the Marine Corps. We are grateful for your passionate attitude for your service to our nation.

1. Full Name?
Jonathan Retana

2. What branch of the armed forces did you serve

3. What was your rank?
Lance CPL

4. What were your years of service?
2005 – 2013

5. What motivated you to join?
I wanted to do my part to service to my country, to do something honorable. I wanted to leave a legacy in my history book for my family.
Duty I owed to God

6. Tell me about your boot-camp experience?
It was a wild ride with so many mixed emotions. One of the best experiences of a lifetime. Difficult being away from home. I got the news that my grandma passed away during camp. Looking back, it propelled me to push through to make her proud. I graduated Series Honorman out of a class of 505 Marines.

7. How did you get through it?
I gave it my all day in and day out. My drill Sergeant broke it down that pullups will get you through it. The physical part of it required me to be reliable. I knocked out 17 pullups to start then they gave me a squad leader role for 4 weeks. Towards the second month, I got promoted to different classes. I was the Guide up until the second phase. It was more difficult for me since I was the Guide. My physical and mental will was tested every day. My heart was tested every day. My brother was a big motivator for me who was a Marine who was part of the initial push in Iraq. I was not about to quit and I wanted to make my family proud.

8. Where did you serve the majority of the time in the service?
Initially in Pasadena with the Reserve unit. Out of the whole battalion, 12-20 Marines were dispatched and I was sent to Camp Legume as a Lance CPL E – 3 to go through the advanced infantry training course. The rest of my time was in San Diego at Camp Horno.

9. Tell me about some special people you met while serving?
One of my childhood friends who is a Gunnery Sergeant Mike Garcia. We went to school together growing up. To go from kids in the street to be at the same places in Iraq was shocking but also exciting.

10. Who was the most influential to you while serving?
My senior drill instructor, Staff Sergeant Dorsey. He was a motivator, he was 6’4” and from Compton. He had a lot of life stories for me that I could relate to. He trained me how to lead Marines the right way.

11. Tell me a funny story you experienced that could only happen in the military.
We had 1 guy name Sargent Diaz, we were getting ready to go out in Iraq and we were conducting checks on the vehicles, he was also late or on the shitter. We were doing this run with the Battalion Commander, and it came down to “where is Diaz?” They pulled him out of the porter shitter with his underwear halfway around his ass. He was taking a shit during the mission briefing.

12. What did you get out of the military?
The number one thing is pride and humbleness in the sense of putting life into a different perspective and how civilians see life. It puts things in perspective and how people take breath for granted. Leadership advice I was offered for my own life, for my family. Absolute selflessness, because you are only as strong as your weakest link.

13. Best and worse food you ate?
Most memorable was during the Relief in Place, Marine Corp. unit 2 – 9. We were doing a patrol through the market place. Battalion Commander took us to his favorite spot and gave us naan with lamb and cucumber salad. It wasn’t the best, but it was the first authentic Iraqi meal, especially when our senses were hyped. The worse was during in-field training when the field cooks came out with gray watered down based eggs. Who knows what they mixed in it. It looked like mildew.

14. What did you go on to do as a career post- service?
I knew that I wanted a hands-on job. I was inspired to pursue an EMT license since I had some trauma training. My experience led me to healthcare and helping veterans wherever I can.

15. Would you do it again?
Fuck yea

16. What do you enjoy doing on your spare time?
Gun range
Playing sports (softball, basketball)
Time with family & girlfriend

17. What does the American flag mean to you?
It represents the world we live in today. We have so many different things going on. It’s the glue to both sides of the spectrum. Blood, sweat, and tears have poured into it. It keeps unity at the forefront of this country, love, pride, and their fellow man. Everything as a whole is in this flag, something that we call home.