CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Staff Sgt. Serafin Salazar, Jr., the motor transport operations chief of School of Infantry West, was presented with the ‘Master Gunnery Sergeant Gerardo Acevedo Award’ on May 29, 2019, during a ceremony at the School of Infantry West aboard Camp Pendleton, California.
Acevedo deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, serving nearly 27 years before passing away on Feb. 3, 2018 while still on active duty. The award, formerly the “Motor Transport Operations Chief of the Year,” was renamed this year in honor of Master Gunnery Sgt. Acevedo, who was frequently characterized as someone always willing to help others.
“I am honored to receive this award named after [Master Gunnery Sgt. Acevedo],” said Salazar. “I talked to a couple of Marines that had served with him and told me that he was a great Marine to work with and was always there to help the Marines with anything they needed.”
It was Salazar’s first time being nominated for the award, which recognized both Salazar’s role as a motor transport operations chief as well as his hard work and dedication to the job.
“With all of the missions and changes to the School of Infantry – West, such as females training on the West Coast, our work tempo increased,” said Salazar.
The award citation noted Salazar’s dedication to readiness in ensuring 4,420 weekly and 2,196 monthly preventative maintenance checks and services on 157 vehicles, while overseeing the induction of 90 vehicles into the maintenance cycle. Additionally, Salazar oversaw the group licensing program that administered over 14,000 accident-free road miles on student drivers and issued 80 incidental operator licenses.
In attendance was the Acevedo family who listened solemnly as a biography of Master Gunnery Sgt. Gerardo Acevedo was read alongside the citation of the award now named for him.
“When I heard the Marine Corps was naming the award after my husband’s name, my first thought was ‘what an honor,’” said Lidia Acevedo, Master Gunnery Sgt. Gerardo Acevedo’s wife. “His sacrifice, hard work, dedication and commitment is now recognized in a high level. His legacy will live forever.”
Lidia Acevedo presented Salazar with the plaque and listened as the command shared stories about her husband and congratulated Salazar. Lidia was all smiles as she handed off the award, but tears welled-up as Marines shared the stories and memories from serving alongside her husband or simply those who had heard of his impact.
“Even though this Marine will never physically meet my husband, he still shares the same love, dedication and commitment to our country,” said Lidia Acevedo. “So I believe that, in a way, he knows the kind of man my husband is just by winning this award.”
Master Gunnery Sgt. Gerardo Acevedo’s life and legacy will be carried on by the Corps and those who receive the award with his namesake.
“He was born to become a Marine and passed away as a Marine,” said Lidia Acevedo. “The Marine Corps has become a part of me as well.”