Veterans of our Campus: Mr. Toledo

Natalie Corona, Writer

In honor of Military Day on our campus, I wanted to highlight one of the veterans we have on campus: Mr. Toledo. Mr. Toledo is one of the counselors here on campus, but prior to that, Toledo was a U.S. Marine.


Fresh out of high school, Toledo joined the marine corps at the age of eighteen. Teenage Toledo did not know what career path he wanted to take. While his friends were already enrolled in different colleges, university was never a discussion Toledo had as he got closer to graduation. With a family history of veterans, it seemed like a clear choice to Toledo where he should go.


“My family has a history of military, going back to grandfather—Korean Vet—and my father—Vietnam Vet,” Toledo said. “I knew that the military that was normal for our family, that’s why I joined.” 


Despite his grandfather and his father being a part of The United States Army, Toledo found himself in the Marines and stayed there for 6 years. The experience was filled with a lot of work, being both physically and mentally challenging especially if you are brand new and young. There is a requirement to always be on—brain and body—even when you are on leave. It was an intense journey that was not enjoyable for Toledo. 


The Marines is the branch that has a variety of sections: land, air, and ocean. Toledo was lucky to not get appointed with infantry and was attached to an air wing. He was first stationed on the East Coast, specifically North Carolina, and then came to the West to El Toro and down to Mariamare; roughly lasting a year or year and a half in each base.


“Those are all air stations where they have either helicopters or they have fighter jets,” Toledo said. “As I’m walking to my office, I was touching the fighter jets. It was the coolest thing ever.”


Even though it was really tough, Toledo believes the experience helped him grow into a mature person as a teenager and stabilize his life. The distance and lack of ability to be able to see your family made Toledo realize how vital they are. Some lessons are still relevant in the present for Toledo as things have to be a certain way and his appearance must be neat before he leaves the house—a concept the Marines emphasized heavily (ironing uniform, keeping a certain look, etc).


During his time there, Toledo was also enrolled in community college and fulfilled the general education requirements necessary. Toledo knew he wasn’t destined to be in the military forever and it wasn’t the right career for him. He was deep into his studies and when he produced good results, Toledo realized that he valued his education and it was important to him.


“The first couple years in college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Toledo stated. “As life kinda went, then I thought what can I do? I always knew my job had to do something with people.”


With the tests taken in the military, Toledo was frequently told he should pursue a career in law. Toledo did find himself working with lawyers whilst a Marine, but it was something he was never interested in. What got Toledo into education was his wife—who at that time was his girlfriend. They were both enrolled in the same college and she was pursuing to be a teacher. As she got into her job as a teacher, Toledo was first a social worker but pivoted and went on to get his masters in educational counseling, leading him to work here at Downey High School.


Thank you, Mr. Toledo, for your service.