A life-changing move

UNITED STATES MARINE Corps veteran Jessica Salgado is being recognized as St. Juvin Post 1336’s Hometown Hero. Salgado’s dress uniform and photographs from her time in service are on display at the Coal City Public Library. Salgado is the first female veteran to be honored by the post with its Hometown Hero recognition.
Photo by Cindy Starks/Coal City Public Library District

Raised in Morris and Missouri before that, Jessica Salgado trained and took a position in the medical field, then she made a life-changing decision that added another M to her life story—Marines.

After high school, Salgado enrolled at Wabaunsee Community College in Sugar Grove where she studied to become a surgical technician. Her career choice landed her a position at Morris Hospital and after five years there she relocated to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bloomington.

In 2010, she decided she needed a change in life, so she packed up her personal possessions, placed them in storage and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

While many join the Marines out of family tradition or association, Salgado's connection with the military was through her grandfathers'—one served in the U.S. Navy and one in the U.S. Army.

Salgado attended boot camp at Paris Island in South Carolina with a rude awakening, as it is to all potential Marines—male or female.
Most of her fellow female Marines, guided by female drill instructors, were in their middle 20s and many dropped out due to the rigorous physical training required.

After boot camp it was off to advanced infantry training.

“Every Marine is a rifleman” is not just some slogan; it's what Marines do.

The male/female divide ended, as all Marines have to qualify as at least marksman with the M16 rifle, M240 machine gun, and M249 squad automatic weapon (SAW), M203 grenade launcher, the Browning .50 caliber M2 machine gun, and hand grenades.

Salgado was further trained as a MOS (military occupation specialty) 0627 which is a satellite communications operator and shipped off to the Fleet Marine Force Pacific and Japan

After arriving, she was assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force/7th Communications Battalion where she worked in logistics being responsible for seeing to it that Marines rotated to Okinawa, Korea or elsewhere were properly equipped, armed, and provisioned for their tasks. Sergeant Salgado was reassigned to Comm. Squadron 38 3rd Marine Air Wing at Miramar, CA.

Unfortunately for Salgado her previous training in the medical field would not be used by the Marines as all medical personnel serving the Marines are members of the U.S. Navy.

During her training she sustained several injuries which eventually required a medical discharge from the Marines.

For her service, Salgado was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, Marine Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Medal, Sharp Shooter badge with the M16 rifle, Certificate of Commendation for Marine of the Quarter, and an award from the President for volunteering for Operation Good Will, and other volunteer services.

Salgado is currently being recognized by St. Juvin Post 1336 Veterans of Foreign Wars for her service to the nation as its Hometown Hero.

Hometown Heroes is an ongoing partnership between the Coal City Public Library District and Post 1336. During the month of May, Salgado’s uniform and photos from her time in service will be on display at the front entrance of the library, 85 N. Garfield St.

The exhibit is one Post 1336 and the Coal City Public Library District routinely recognize local military veterans and this month they honor Salgado for her service to a grateful nation.