Latina Letters From the Front!

By Cpl Sky Fortune
U.S. Marine Corps

Reenlistment Ceremony at Lackland AFB. October 2022.

I am a native Spanish Linguist in the Marine Corps. I am a Chicana, half Mexican, half American and I’m proud of my Hispanic roots. My mother is from Jalisco, Mexico, and I grew up with her in California up until high school and then moved in with my father. I am the first child in my family to be born in the U.S. and the first to become a Marine. Part of the reason why I joined the Marine Corps was to break the generational chain of machismo in my family and to show my hermanita that Latinas are just as capable as any man to do whatever they set their mind to and accomplishing it.

I have faced many obstacles in life, such as abuse, language barriers, sexual assault, divorce, and injury. The biggest obstacle that I have faced is the one I’m currently working through. I was recently diagnosed with a congenital heart disease called Long QT Syndrome. I didn’t know about this and never displayed signs of this condition until the day I went into cardiac arrest from swimming. I had a goal to go to MARSOC and become a SOCS-F, which meant I needed to condition my body to be successful. I was doing my swim workout when I went into cardiac arrest and had to be defibrillated after two minutes of CPR the week after Thanksgiving. I spent a week in the hospital doing a series of tests to confirm what had happened and why, which led to surgery to get a defibrillator implanted. Everyone around me had told me how lucky I was, but the biggest thing on my mind was that my Marine Corps career is over and all the plans I had were no longer a possibility, along with my physical fitness. As service members, our identity has a strong attachment to the military. As a Marine, I associate a large part of my identity with being a Marine and being fit.

Sky with her siblings Karina, JJ,
and Kayllie, and her mom, Irma,
at a California park. December 2021.

Physical fitness is an important aspect of my life as it has been a form of therapy and boosted my confidence as a woman. With all of that being taken away and being told that I will no longer be able to do the things that I was doing a week ago, that I won’t be able to stay in the Marine Corps, it was devastating to hear. As I processed everything and healed, I started to rediscover who Sky is again and realized that all the qualities that made Cpl Fortune great were qualities that Sky already had prior to joining. The Marine Corps helped bring those out of me, but I wore the uniform, the uniform didn’t wear me. While my path may have drastically changed, there are still great things I can accomplish, and having the experience that I did in the Marine Corps will only propel me further as I take those lessons with me to my next career. L