MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Friends argued that he should have stayed home to care for his daughter instead of joining the military.
"I told them, that's why I am going in the military," said PFC James E. Vick Jr. "I am going to take care of my family along with my neighbors, their neighbors and everyone else."
The San Mateo, Calif., native who joined Platoon 1151, Company A, three months ago, used motivation to provide for his family to excel within his platoon.
Vick was meritoriously promoted to private first class for his performance in recruit training and for being a squad leader.
"He was put in the billet because he steps up to challenges every time, and his situational awareness is good," said Sgt. Vernon L. Jarvis, one of Vick's drill instructors.
While in the Delayed Entry Program for two months at Recruiting Station San Francisco, Vick served as the guide and helped change the station's physical training program from one day a week to every day.
"He is strong in PT and sets the example for the other recruits," Jarvis said. "They respect him for it. You can't put someone there that they won't respect."
All Vick's hard work is preparing him for success with the Marine Corps, according to Jarvis.
"He is a responsible recruit who will get the job done," he said. "I have no doubt he will graduate at the top of his class at the School of Infantry."
The family Vick started is his reason for striving to do so well.
"I live for my family now," Vick said. "Before my daughter, I didn't know my purpose. I had finally created something that was not (fouled) up like everything I did before."
Vick has tried exceeding the limitations of life that his parents formed.
"My parents passed away by the time I was 10 years old," he said. "My father was killed because of gang activities, and my mother was killed by AIDS."
Vick found himself heading down a wrong path.
"I did a lot of stupid things," he said. "I was only concerned with making money."
His attitude changed in the couple years he was out of high school.
"My brothers are in the penitentiary, and I wanted to stay away from there," he said. "I wanted to do something I could be proud of."
He gained an entirely new outlook on life when his daughter, 3-month-old Rikkilynn G. Vick, was born, according to Vick. She slowed him down in a good way.
"Coming here did it too," Vick said. "Every night in my rack, I would think about not being able to hold my daughter."
According to Jarvis, Vick shows natural leadership and a maturity level above other recruits.
His family supports him today as he graduates recruit training and leaves the Depot to spend his 10 days of leave with his daughter and his fiancée Michelle L. Gualberto.