CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan --
CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan— U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Chad R. Cruz, a motor transport operator with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, was awarded the Motor Transport Operator of the Year award.
The Marine Corps Motor Transport Awards Program was established to recognize the outstanding achievements of individual motor transport Marines and Marine Corps organizations within 12 award categories, according to Marine Administrative Message 481/18.
Cruz said he was thrilled when his battalion sergeant major and commanding officer told him in person that he had won the award during his recent deployment to Australia.
“I thought it was going to be me versus the rest of Camp Kinser, but apparently it kept going up and I wasn’t aware of it,” said Cruz. "It felt good when they finally told me."
Award recipients were chosen by board members from Headquarters Marine Corps Installations and Logistics. The board was comprised of senior members of the motor transport community.
Cruz’s staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge, Staff Sgt. Jose R. Abarca, a motor transport maintenance chief with 3rd Supply Bn., CLR-35, 3rd MLG, said that on top of his good attitude and being an even better Marine, he was selected because he had the most missions completed in his section.
“It was just the basic stuff like customs and courtesies, the way he looks in his uniform, the way he carries himself and his professionalism,” said Abarca. “On the operational side of things, he had over 500,000 pounds of cargo hauled, completed 50 missions and transported over 10,000 troops.”
As a line non-commissioned officer, Cruz oversees many trucks in his section. He ensures that all the preventative maintenance is conducted correctly and tracks the statuses of vehicles in his charge.
“A line NCO is the more senior, more experienced NCO,” said Abarca. “[Cruz] is definitely one of those more knowledgeable Marines.”
Abarca said that this is a great individual award, however it took many other Marines to get Cruz in the position to win.
“The longer you stay in the Marine Corps, you come to understand that it’s not about you,” said Abarca. “It all comes down to being able to teach the newer Marines arriving to the Fleet Marine Force.”
Being newly promoted to the rank of corporal, Cruz says that at any rank, you can step up to make a difference.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re an NCO or a lance corporal, you should still be able to make an impact on the Marines in your section by how you conduct yourself,” said Cruz. “I think now that I have more say in things, the way that I run things will be a little different.”
Cruz said having a sense of friendly competition motivates him to keep himself on his toes when it comes to work.
“I hear a lot of incidents that happen because of carelessness and I don’t want to be like that,” said Cruz. “I can’t settle for less, I have to go above the standard to feel accomplished.”
For Cruz, Marines are known for upholding themselves and keeping the highest of standards; which is one of the several reasons why he joined the Marine Corps.
“I joined with my cousin in September of 2016,” said Cruz. “My cousin was my biggest influence because he was the one that told me that the Marine Corps was the way to go.”
Having come from a military family, it was easy for Cruz to decide his future. Despite his parents serving in different branches, Cruz was set on joining the Marine Corps.
“My dad was in the Air Force and my mom was in the Army,” Cruz said. “The Marine Corps recruiter, who was also a motor transport operator, was the only recruiter I talked to.”
Cruz said that he had originally wanted to be an infantryman, but his recruiter said that motor transport operator was the greatest job in the Marine Corps.
“He showed me pictures of him on deployments, and then eventually I was like, ‘I’ll do it’,” Cruz said.
Throughout his enlistment as a motor transport operator, Cruz said he enjoys every moment.
“The best feeling in the world is when I pull out of the lot in my truck and start my mission,” Cruz said.