FORT SNELLING, Minn. --
Each Marine has a story. Each Marine has a reason why they decided to leave home to join the nation’s most elite fighting force. For some, the attraction is in the benefits, education and experience they earn. For others, the draw is more about answering a call to service. For the Ramirez twins, the call was strong enough to give up promising athletic careers to become Marines.
Twins Daniel and Damien Ramirez traded in a life of professional sports fighting for a life of professional military fighting. Before leaving for recruit training, the local Shakopee men earned their living as Mixed Martial Arts fighters. Despite their success, they felt they had an obligation that was yet unfulfilled.
“I believe every man should serve their country,” said Daniel. “We wanted to pay our dues before we continued with the rest of our lives.”
Once the twins made the decision to join the military, they believed it was only natural to choose the Marine Corps. Due to the competitive nature of the Corps, there was no doubt in their minds this branch was the right fit for them. With the help of their recruiter, Sgt. Oumarou Abdoulaye, the twins shipped out to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego within three short months of making the commitment.
“I had no doubt in my mind that they would be successful,” said Abdoulaye. “They were ready to be Marines from the get-go and I knew that one of them would end up as the honor graduate.”
His prediction turned out to be spot on. Upon arrival to training, Daniel quickly stood out from his peers, and his drill instructors entrusted him with the leadership position of the guide.
Daniel’s strong inclination toward leadership, along with his superior fitness, rifle qualifications and test scores, earned him the title of Company Honor Graduate and a meritorious promotion to the rank of lance corporal.
“What set me apart from the rest of the guys was that I really cared about my platoon,” said Daniel. “No matter how angry they made me or how slow they were moving, I still really cared about their wellbeing. I knew what it took to get them to move fast and it set me apart as a leader. And the fact that I wasn’t going to give up.”
Not only were the twins extremely competitive with their fellow recruits, they were competitive with each other.
“Even though I shot expert on the rifle range, it didn’t feel like expert because my brother shot better than me,” said Daniel.
Despite their competitive spirit, each was grateful they had the other to get them through the tough times and challenges of recruit training.
“It made it easier to get through knowing my brother was right there,” said Damien. “He got me through the stressful times and kept my head up.”
Following ten days of leave, the brothers are scheduled to attend the School of Infantry West where they will train for their jobs as infantry Marines. After completion of their four years of service, the twins plan to return to their former careers as MMA fighters.
“If we were MMA fighters for four years and got hurt, what could we say we did? Nothing,” said Daniel. “But now we can say we are Marines. So that’s our lives now.”