By Marine Corps Cpl. Pedro Cardenas
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif., Nov. 18, 2013 – For Marine Corps Sgt. Adi Luminare, migrating to the United States provided an opportunity to have a better life than his family had in Romania.
“I always wanted to be a drill instructor ever since recruit training and once I was promoted to sergeant, I volunteered,” he said. “In my mind, if I became a drill instructor, I could help Marines with anything.”
Luminare, 28, grew up in the Romanian capital of Bucharest in a poor family, and he learned to appreciate the simpler things in life because of his tough childhood. His father worked several jobs to provide for the family while his mother stayed at home. Sometimes, he said, multiple jobs weren’t enough to support a family of eight.
“It was hard, because food was scarce,” he said. “You had to save and eat rations. Our desserts were soggy bread with sugar on it. We had to boil our water and then pour it on us in the tub to shower.”
Despite all the hardships, his family remained close, Luminare said, and in 1991, the family’s luck took a good turn. His cousins, who lived in the United States, registered his family in a special sponsorship lottery that pays all expenses for those chosen to move permanently to the United States. The Luminare family was selected.
“I was only 7, but I remember my parents were jumping for joy,” the sergeant said. “People in Romania only dream of America.”
The drill instructor said he remembers looking at all the signs in the airport and not knowing what any of it meant when he arrived in the United States on Feb. 14, 1991. People asked questions, he added, and his family used signs to communicate.
Luminare had never attended school, but shortly after his arrival, he was placed in the second grade. He used phonics to learn English, and he adapted quickly to the American way of life. After high school, he moved to North Carolina and started his own granite countertops business. He met some Marines at church, he said, and liked the way they presented themselves, so he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps.
“I started talking with the Marines, and it was the dress blue uniform that got me,” he said. “I didn’t even think about the other branches.”
Luminare shipped off to recruit training Sept. 22, 2008, and was impressed with the drill instructors. Their demeanor and their knowledge about the Marine Corps enticed him to aspire to become one of the best himself, he said. He worked hard after recruit training to be promoted quickly so he could apply to drill instructor school as soon as possible.
While deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, three years after he enlisted, he was selected to be meritoriously promoted to the rank of sergeant. He was promoted on March 2, 2012, making him eligible for drill instructor duty. Immediately after his promotion, he volunteered to achieve one of his life goals.
“I followed my dream [and] my plan, and I made it,” he said.
As a drill instructor, Luminare said, he pushes his recruits to their limits so they learn to be the best they can be.
“He is passionate about training recruits and genuinely cares,” said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Eric Flores, senior drill instructor and Palmdale, Calif., native. “He is very demanding and expects the best from the recruits he is training.”
Luminare said he will make the Marine Corps his career, passing his experiences on to the next generation of Marines, leading by example and never giving up.
“I’m going to teach them to have morals and values,” he said. “Most importantly, the lesson is that your family is always there to get through the tough times.”