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Sierra grad part of the few and the proud
Eric Oliva - photo by Photo Contributed

Lisa Oliva watched her son board a plane to San Diego on Tuesday, confident his future would be shaped by the men in his past.

Her son is a full-fledged Marine now, following in the footsteps of the role models from his youth.

Eric Oliva graduated from bootcamp an expert in riflemanship on Aug. 9. His 13-week stay in basic at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego was a test of his physical and mental wherewithal.

The Sierra High alum completed 10-mile hikes with gear strapped to his back, trained in water survival and completed the Marine’s martial arts program.

“Although the ‘Crucible,’ which is the final test before you are given the Marine title, was the most challenging,” Lisa Oliva wrote, “the endurance and tight bond from his fellow Marines and drill instructors helped him overcome some very difficult moments.”

The next phase in his training called for his return to San Diego, this time for the School of Infantry.

Upon graduation, Oliva will begin training for his Military Occupational Specialty.

That Oliva chose this career path isn’t much of a surprise.

The greatest men in his life have flourished in the military.

His brother-in-law Anthony Piol, 27, joined the Marines before beginning a career in law enforcement.

Longtime family friend Chuck Adams is retired military. He served five years in the Marines and 17 more in the Air Force.

Oliva’s grandfather, Jesse Piceno, served in the Navy, and his uncle Frank Rueda did tours in the Vietnam and Korean wars with the Army. The Stockton resident received two purple hearts and his 2nd of the 7th cavalry – “Custard’s outfit,” he said – was featured in TIME LIFE magazine and the movie “We are Soldiers.”

“I come from a very large family. I have 100 cousins. My grandmother had 14 kids. We have a lot – A LOT – in our family, and we recently had a funeral. Eric happened to be there and he touched base with some of his uncles. They were all giving him advice,” she said. “He was so inspired and motivated by them all. Everyone he’s seen and met with has lifted his spirits.”

Oliva hopes to be the same role model to his 2-year-old son, Niko.

“He feels like he’s doing a service for his country but this is also the best thing for his family, mainly his son,” Lisa said. “He’s seen how these men have served their country and developed these awesome careers – and they’re comfortable.”