Chicagoland native, East Leyden High School grad, makes waves during Indo-Pacific deployment
Cpl. Andre Balseca, a 2015 graduate of East Leyden High School, is a world traveller – in fact, the Chicagoland native has spanned the globe twice as a rifleman with the “China Marines,” Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. He is currently deployed aboard the USS Ashland (LSD 48) with the Okinawa, Japan-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “We go through everything together. Being cold, stuffed onto the raiding boats with everyone, it’s probably one of the best and hardest things I’ve had to do. It’s tough, but it’s worth it,” said Balseca, currently assigned to Alpha Company, the small boat raid specialists with BLT 1/4, the Ground Combat Element for the 31st MEU. As for his decision to join the Marines right after high school? “You know how it goes – you see the Marine Corps’ appeal to challenge and exclusivity. Obviously it was the hardest option, that’s what they all say. But it wasn’t until I joined that I saw what it was really all about.” The 31st MEU, the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward-deployed MEU, provides a flexible and lethal force ready to perform a wide range of military operations as the premier crisis response force in the Indo-Pacific region.