The ties that bind (and survive boot camp)

13

 

Marines, and friends, for life, these days former Sgt. Colin Burgos, left, gets to be the boss of Mike Beltran, his former drill instructor hired to help grow Burgos' tactical gear business in San Clemente, Calif.//Gidget Fuentes

It’s a memory just about any Marine would rather soon forget, the moment when niceties from the first moments at recruit training are quietly shoved aside when testosterone-driven drill instructors pick up their fresh prey and aim right for the jugular.

On one day in 1997 at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Colin Burgos was a teenager facing a trio of DIs who roared like a tornado from the duty hut into the squad bay, barking incomprehensible orders at the then-17-year-old Brugos, a fresh-faced kid from Texas about to face leatherneck-style discipline like he expected from countless hours watching Full Metal Jacket. Among the DIs in his face was the most feared, the “strong-j,” then-Sgt. Michael Beltran, then the senior green belt DI.

On Training Day 1, Beltran ordered Platoon 3065 to do some calisthenics, and it didn’t take long when the young but physically fit Burgos caught his attention. “They were doing Daily 7s, and he was doing flutter kicks,” Beltran recalls of Burgos, whose short-lived independent spirit would earned him multiple thrashings over time at the recruit depot. It also was enough to spur Beltran to name Burgos as the platoon guide, the billet with both responsibility and burden of carrying the blame for other wayward recruits. Burgos didn’t want to let him down. While he was fired several times, usually by other DIs, Burgos would quickly regain the post, and he ultimately graduated boot camp as the honor grad.

Back in the day, then-recruit Colin Burgos, center bottom, had little choice but to listen to his drill instructors, including then-Sgt. Mike Beltran, top left at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego in 1997.//Courtesy photo

Burgos and Beltran went their separate ways, but their paths crossed a few times over the years as they served and deployed with different units at Camp Pendleton, Calif. But Marines know that even once they hang up their uniform, the Marine Corps really is a small world. So funny things happen, like a recruit and his DI becoming, well, friends and business partners. After a 26-year career, Beltran retired on March 1, leaving the Corps as a Marine Gunner and chief warrant officer 4. But 14 years after barking orders at Recruit Burgos, these days he works for Burgos, who this spring hired his former DI to lead professional development for his growing tactical gear business called Combat Ready USA, a San Clemente, Calif.-based company and store he established after leaving the Marine Corps.

Both men couldn’t be happier. Burgos hired Beltran to upgrade their online presence with the goal of increasing web traffic and sales and help expand his company’s small list of proprietary products. Their most recent one is the NOD Retention Lanyard, designed to prevent night optical devices attached to helmets from slipping and breaking. The lanyard – they affectionally call the “NOD dummy cord” – uses a strap and clip that’s affixed to the helmet. Developed by a Marine buddy and handy do-it-yourselfer, it is a hot product, among Combat Ready’s best sellers, with large sales so far to Marine Corps units at nearby Camp Pendleton, Army battalions at Fort Carson, Colo., and National Guard units in Alaska, says Beltran. It’s the kind of product Burgos hopes will help his business develop more tactical products sought by Marines and other customers who venture into his store or shop online and also support a growing DIY Marines tweaking and tailoring their gear to make it work better for them. 

Their partnership is also the kind of leatherneck networking that often helps those Marines who have left the Corps, but really haven’t gone that far from the field, carve out new paths for themselves – and make a difference helping their Marine brethren along the way. It is, says Burgos, “a very uncommon relationship, going from recruit to employer.” But with the newfound help, he adds, “we are at the point where we are expanding.”

Share.

About Author

13 Comments

  1. A.J. Saldana on

    Dude, This was so cool. Gald you’re doing good, and will always pray you do better. Take care of “Baby” Eddie and Kyle. Simpre Fi Bro! Uncle John.

  2. sir if you want to branch out here in the Philippines, i really want to take the honor to be your official distributor here … Im JA Laquihon from Manila, Philippines… I also have relatives like my uncles in the US Marine Corps… I believed that if you give the chance, I could help you grow your business here in the Philippines, i know some people here that could help us… I dont have the money, but I have the guts to face everyone to accomplish the task you will entrusted me… this is my dream, thats why i tried send u this message even if i look funny of what i am doing… this is my address, JA Laquihon, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Main Complex, Corner Mabini St, Malate, Manila… contact number 09106343910 nd 09228722518… facebook accnt 09tripleluck19@yahoo.com… anytime im ready for the task… thank you and Godspeed…

  3. IN 1966 S/SGT ANNIS WAS THE ONE WHO COME TO MY HOUSE AND PUT ME IN THE CORPS.
    I HAD THIS GOOD CUSTOMER WHO LIVED ABOUT 30 MILES FROM MY BUSINESS(FURNITURE SALES)AND WE GOT TO TALKING ABOUT THE MARINES…
    HE IS S/SGT ANNIS .. NOW RETIRED (MASTER GUN) WHO RECURTED ME BACK IN 1966..
    WHAT A SMALL MARINE WORLD.
    SEMPER FI AND GOOD BUSINESS YOU TWO MARINES.

  4. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% sure. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Kudos

  5. Clp. Collazo on

    This is so awesome! The bond of the family ties between us Marines is unbreakable. This is a great example of or loyalty to one another. I love you brothers. Semper Fi

  6. Jason,
    Yes, the DI second from the left is K. Berens. We were his first Platoon and he was pretty brutal when it came to I.T. The sessions felt like they went on for hours. I tried looking him up on Facebook and other sites but had no luck. I believe he may have retired as a Master Sgt or maybe even Master Guns. Go Lima Co.!

  7. Russell White on

    Out of curiosity I searched for 3065 Lima co. 1997 and found this. I was in this Platoon unforgettable, Oorah!

  8. This is a very impressive article. The story behind it makes me proud to know you and doing business with the company.

  9. Michael Burgos on

    I enjoy reading the origin of your lives, as well as, the pathways in which continued to pursue following the endurance of a military life. Together we can do all things.

Reply To Jason Cancel Reply

css.php