About six years ago, a young teen knocked on the door of then-Ahwatukee newcomers Teresa Espinoza and her husband, retired Marine Capt. Gregory Burchan.
Young Javonte Cazares wanted to know if they had any odd jobs he could do.
Over the ensuing six years, Burchan mentored Cazares, telling him about the places he had visited as a Marine and, eventually, a chief inspector of security at ports around the world.
His stories inspired Cazares to the point that he is now following in his mentor’s steps, joining the Marines and recently graduating basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.
“He would tell him all these stories about his travels and how he loved the Marines and the opportunities he had, how the Marines gave him a successful career,” Espinoza explained, recalling how Cazares was so inspired by her husband’s stories that he joined the Army ROTC when he was in high school.
Cazares achieved his longtime goal of becoming a Marine in December with some 500 other recruits at a ceremony in San Diego that Burchan and Espinoza attended.
He is now at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California, learning the fundamentals of marksmanship and planning to study electrical engineering.
“We told him to consider us his family,” Espinoza said. “He never forgot us.”