Petty Officer impresses Marine Academy
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan – At first glance, it appears to be a room full of Marines. They are sitting at their desks in camouflage uniforms, attentively listening to their guest speaker talk about the importance of effective leadership.
There is a young woman in the crowd, that you might notice her in the mass of students. Her calm demeanor and pleasant way of speaking holds you captive as she answers a question posed by the guest speaker. As she speaks, your eyes drift down to her collar where her rank sits. The black insignia isn’t a staff sergeant of Marines, the usual rank in attendance. Instead, her rank has the crow and three rockers of a petty officer first class of the Navy, a rank not commonly found in the career course at the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Okinawa.
Petty Officer 1st Class Xiomara A. Azinge, a surgical technician with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, stands apart from other sailors because of how her unique background has motivated her throughout her life to persevere, seek out new challenges and inspire others.
As a young girl, Azinge’s family was poor. To build a better livelihood for themselves, the family moved from Travesia, Honduras to Bronx, New York.
Culturally speaking, this was no easy transition for the family.
Beyond learning the American lifestyle and the English language within her community and public school system, Azinge struggled in less than desirable conditions at home, hailing from an abusive family.
“We had our trials and tribulations as kids growing up,” said Azinge, remembering her childhood. “The things that I’ve been through is the reason why I’m sitting here being the person that I am. It’s pushed me this far because I know I would never want to go through that again or to have my children go through that. I want to show the world that through something bad you can always come out and bloom into something beautiful.”
Starting in middle school, Azinge began making plans for her future, inspired by a television show called “Operation” to pursue the medical field.
“I’ve seen a lot, to the point in junior high school, I decided I needed to get out of the house,” said Azinge. “I was just going to get my good grades and get out. I knew the only way I could do that was through the military and the closest recruiting station near me was the Navy.”
With the encouragement of her sister and grandmother, Azinge pursued the Navy and enlisted as a corpsman to follow her dream of getting a medical degree.
“My sister inspired me a lot,” said Azinge. “She would come back with all of her stories, telling us she did this and this, and of the training she received.
“I saw how the family changed because of one person that made it out and did something good. So I wanted to do that and show my brothers that it’s possible to get out.”
As a young sailor following the advice of experienced nurses, officers and mentors, Azinge challenged herself to excel in every area she encountered as a surgery technologist in an effort to pave the way for future sailors.
“I think I’ve reached that point where I can say I’m proud of myself,” said Azinge, confidently. “The Navy really opens every door of the medical field for me, and I cannot say more than thank you. That was the hand I needed to come take me out of that environment that I so wanted to get out of since I was young.”
Now, as a sailor working with the Marines in the corpsman occupational field, Azinge pressed on to learn about the Marines she would be working with on a daily basis by taking on the Marine Corps’ career course at the SNCOA.
“I’ve been quite impressed with Azinge’s performance and professionalism as a sailor, a person and as a student,” said Sgt. Maj. Anthony Cruz Jr., the director of SNCOA, Okinawa. “At times I will participate in some of the guided discussions, and I’m always curious to hear the answers or the reactions that are going to come out of her in particular, as a sailor.
“She’s holding her own and making Marines around her uncomfortable in a positive way,” said Cruz. “Meaning, they’re trying to step up their ‘A’ game and trying to perform at a higher level because of what she is capable of doing and how she learns, answers and participates.”
Determined to be successful in all that she does, Azinge is highly competitive in everything she attempts. She diligently reads and studies all the course material to ensure she is prepared to succeed in the rigorous career course.
“This course made me humble myself in that I didn’t know anything, I had to start from scratch,” said Azinge. “It’s an accomplishment to graduate and I feel good about it, but I would feel better if I saw more petty officers come because if they don’t, then I did this for what? I did it for myself, yes, and I did really well. But, my reasoning for being here is to motivate my peers to go to this course and to show them it isn’t bad but beneficial.”
Azinge graduated the SNCO Academy Okinawa’s Career Course Oct. 10 at the Camp Hansen theater. Anzinge is using her background, perseverance and leadership to form new goals of impacting her peers, earning a degree and becoming a naval officer.
Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!
Follow us on social media!