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Okinawa Marine masters the balancing act

Lance Cpl. Daniel R. Todd, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler


Juanita Buentello has to share her husband. Like most married Marines, Sgt. Reyes P. Buentello balances his role as husband and father with his role as noncommissioned officer and leader of Marines.

Juanita has grown accustomed to a family dynamic that provides for her husband’s fervent commitment to the Marines under him and his tendency to go above and beyond that which is expected of him.

Juanita says that in the six years her husband has spent in the Marine Corps, she has come to understand that Buentello is not just any NCO. He is a stellar one.

“It used to bother me a little, but I got used to it,” Juanita said. “I understand that this is who he is; this is the career he’s committed to.”

The fact that Buentello, an electronics switching operator and maintainer with Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18, Marine Air Control Group 18, is a standout NCO was evidenced recently when he became the 2007 1st Marine Aircraft Wing NCO of the year and also won the Corps-wide Pfc. Herbert A. Littleton NCO Trophy for Operational Communications Excellence.

Buentello’s peers, subordinates and leaders all say his recent achievements are indicative of the type of leader he is.

His Marines hold him in the highest regard and said they feel confident going to him any time they need help or guidance.

“He is hands down the best NCO in our shop, and I think he is someone all Marines could learn from,” said Cpl. Stephen Castleberry, a field wireman with MWCS-18. “He would do anything to take care of his Marines.”

“He would sell his soul to take care of a Marine,” said Cpl. Howard Heflin, a field wireman with MWCS-18. “That is how dedicated he is to making sure we have everything we need.”

Buentello wasn’t always the same passionate NCO. Before the Marine Corps and early in his career he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. His father served in the Air Force, and that sparked Buentello’s interest in military service. The summer before Mastering the balancing act his senior year, he met with a Marine recruiter. By the end of his senior year, he had made up his mind.

He said he wasn’t happy with the direction his life was headed and who he had become.

“The only good thing I had going for me at the time was the beautiful lady who is now my wife,” he said. “I needed a change, and I figured the Marine Corps could do that for me.”

He started his military career in 2002 and eventually grew to love the Marine Corps. But Buentello says his passion for being a Marine sprouted slowly.

He spent 28 months as a lance corporal and said he was pretty sour at that point. During that time, he deployed to Iraq for six months, and his discontent grew. The long wait for promotion had him discouraged, and the separation from his wife and 2-year-old son weighed on him.

He was promoted to corporal July 1, 2005, just before he returned from Iraq, the promotion wasn’t enough to pick up his spirits. He was still bitter that it had taken more than two years.

But once he returned home, a series of events changed Buentello’s life and outlook on the Marine Corps. Shortly after his return, his wife became pregnant for the second time. He and his wife deliberated over what was the best path for their future and eventually decided that the Marine Corps provided a good life for their family. Buentello reenlisted Oct. 14, 2005, and a week later, the Buentellos found out they were having twins.

Buentello said he was relieved and happy with his choice when he got that news. It was a very hectic but exciting time. Shortly after reenlisting, he attended the professional military education course for corporals at Cherry Point, N.C. and graduated at the top of his class.

“There was a lot that happened in a short period of time: reenlistment, finding out I was having twins and graduating as honor graduate,” Buentello said. “All of this at one time really changed my attitude, and I decided that this is something I really want to do. So I told myself I am going to make the best of everything thrown my way,”

His newly-changed attitude and strong drive to become a great leader helped him to receive a meritorious promotion to sergeant after only nine months as a corporal.

He arrived on Okinawa in August 2006 and has made a strong impression on the Marines he works with.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Dubois, technical control chief for MWCS- 18, said Buentello exemplifies exactly what the Marine Corps is looking for in an NCO.

“He is very passionate about his job and the Marines working under him.” Dubois said. “He is a Marine who leads from the front, and he would never ask a Marine to do something he couldn’t or wouldn’t do himself.”

Buentello said he plans on continuing his career in the Marine Corps. He is submitting a warrant officer package next year and hopes to become a telephone systems officer with in the next two years.

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