AL ASAD, Iraq -- In 1979, when communism swept through Nicaragua, the Lazada family hoped for a better life, not only for themselves, but for their children. In 1984 the Lazada’s sought political asylum in the United States and settled in El Paso, Texas.
After 11 years of growing up in the United States, Mayra Lazada graduated from Parkland High School in 1995. Remembering the country that, she says, gave her family a new outlook on life, Mayra left home for Marine Corps boot camp.
“I just wanted to serve the country that had helped me so much when I was younger,” said Staff Sgt. Mayra Lazada, supply chief, Marine Tactical Air Control Squadron 28, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. “When my family needed help this country gave us refuge. I just wanted to show my appreciation for the help years ago.”
After completing supply school and warehouse clerk school at Camp Johnson, N.C., Lazada reported to Okinawa for duty as a warehouse clerk. After a year and a half in Japan she then transferred to Camp Pendleton, Calif., to work in the base logistics department.
It wasn’t until the 2001 that Sgt. Lazada chose a new stepping-stone in her career. She reported to Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C., as an instructor at the Corporal’s Leadership School. The corporal’s school would benefit the Marine not only professionally, but personally. After two years of molding some of the Marine Corps’s youngest leaders, she would meet and marry fellow Marine, then, Sgt. James Milliken, also currently deployed here.
This is Lazada’s first deployment and she has adjusted well to the expeditionary environment in Iraq, but didn’t expect to have the impact she does on her fellow Marines. Her reputation for excellence plays a key role in the success of the forward deployed 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“I didn’t realize how important our role out here was until we arrived,” Lazada said. “We support the wing command center, which is the nerve center of all Marine aviation in the country. If they need something and we can’t get it, the mission could suffer.”
Along with her duties as the supply chief, Lazada is the squadrons substance abuse control officer and the sexual assault prevention and response officer.
“I’m proud of my billets,” Lazada said. “If the situation arises and someone needs a fellow Marine to talk to, I want to be that Marine. It’s a big responsibility and I’ll ensure the job gets done properly.”
“[Lazada’s] overall maturity and concern for her fellow Marines is outstanding,” said Lt. Col. Robert C. Schutz IV, commanding officer, MTACS-28 and Baltimore, Md., native. “I think she is a Marine other Marines can talk to about sensitive issues and know she will take care of them.”
Along with the support she receives from her commanding officer, Lazada also has the support of Marines under her charge.
“She is always upbeat and motivated,” said Cpl. Courtney Greigo, supply clerk, and Topeka, Kan., native. “She knows her Marines. When she realizes her Marines are having a bad day she knows how to help you get over it and accomplish the mission.”
“Staff Sergeant Lazada is the best staff sergeant in this unit,” Schutz said. “She is a total Marine. She has good initiative and a sense of mission accomplishment. I can give her a job, get out of the way and she’ll get the job done.”