MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 Black Knights is lucky to have a certain spouse who is no stranger to the life of a Marine Corps dependent.
Maricella Villegas, a family readiness assistant with VFMA-314, certainly knows the ropes not only when it comes to the squadron, but to the Marine Corps way of life in general. Being involved with the career of her husband, Staff Sgt. Pedro Villegas, a flight equipment technician with VFMA-314 and a Corpus Christi, Texas, native, is something that felt natural to her.
“Growing up as a ‘Marine brat,’ I remember my mom always helping out anywhere she could, whether it was babysitting, being a shoulder to cry on or just hosting holiday dinners for the young Marine families and single Marines,” she said. “I never fully understood why she did those things until I became a Marine wife myself.”
Her ability to adapt to this tough lifestyle stems from more than 28 years of experience as both a Marine child and wife.
“When it comes to welcoming new Marines and their families to our squadron, it’s nice knowing somebody took even just five minutes out of their day to introduce themselves,” she said. “That's what I do; I'll send a quick email or phone call to introduce myself and to ask if they are settling in ok or if they need any form of help. As a fellow spouse, I know first-hand what it feels like to be in a new place with nobody to turn to.”
Villegas volunteers as a family readiness assistant to ease the day-to-day lives of other Marine families while providing them with useful knowledge.
“I hope that if nothing else, my efforts encourage other spouses to join the programs offered to us and to help bridge the line of communication between the squadron and the families it houses,” she said. “With details big and small always changing, it’s comforting to know there is somebody on the other side who is a reliable source of information. I love being that person for others.”
The military spouse has their own mission to accomplish, and Villegas knows that role in the “Marine Team” very well.
“Marines were able to concentrate on the mission ahead because, as the Black Knight family, we were able to pull together and be there when we needed each other,” she said. “That's our overall goal as a military spouse: to keep the home fires burning and taking care of business while they are working whether deployed or not.”
By reaching out, Villegas fortifies that network while setting a positive example for the other spouses in the squadron.
“When spouses see that you are active in the squadron, they see it can be a worthwhile experience,” she said. “You become a community within a community. You become friends and family at the end of the day and it makes you and the squadron better for it. I've often heard that with happy spouses come happy missions.”
Villegas finds it vital the Committed and Engaged Spouse Campaign is highlighting so many women across 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“It proves our efforts have made a difference within our squadron and our community,” she said. “We don't do it for the recognition; although it is nice, I think I can say we do it for the knowledge that we truly made a change and have encouraged others to do the same.”
In hopes of inspiring her fellow spouses, Villegas and others recognized as part of the Committed and Engaged Spouse Campaign, stay at the forefront in demonstrating commitment to the Corps.
“I feel the best way to encourage fellow spouses to become involved is to show them your true motivation and passion you have for yourself and for the Marine Corps,” she said. “With the strike of one match, a wild fire can start, and I'd like to think of myself as just one of those sparks that ignited the fire in many more spouses to come.”
This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting the committed and engaged spouses of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.