Zoomie to Leatherneck

Air Force photographer becomes Marine grunt


Talk about a career change:

Cpl. Andrew M. Oquendo, a scout with Delta Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, went from photographer with the U.S. Air Force to infantryman in the U.S. Marine Corps…

The new airman checked into the Defense Information School in Fort Meade, Md., to earn the military occupational specialty of photographer. Once earning the title of photographer, Oquendo deployed in July 2006 from Scott Air Force Base, Illi., in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

–I was in Qatar temporarily until my unit was visited by Maj. Gen. Anthony Przybyslawski (former commanding general of U.S. Air Force Personnel Center), and I took pictures of him,” Oquendo said. –He liked the photos so much he asked if I could accompany him through the rest of his tour.”

During the tour, Oquendo saw Marine infantrymen conducting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and had a feeling that something was missing in his life. He felt he wasn’t contributing enough to the Global War on Terrorism.

–I knew what I really wanted to do, so I had to do whatever it took to achieve it,” said Oquendo.

He’s currently on his first tour in Iraq with the Marines.


  1. I had a former Air Force guy in my Boot Camp Platoon. The Marine Corps does not give any credit for the other services’ basic training, so if you want to be a Marine – it’s 14 weeks as a Recruit Training Depot. It takes guts to do it all over, worse than the first time.