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U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Aselia Isakova, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist with Headquarters Battalion, 3d Marine Division, is awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan, April 8, 2022. Isakova received the award accompanying her appointment as 3d Marine Division’s Marine of the Year for 2021 in recognition of the excellence and initiative she displayed throughout the year. 3d Marine Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron and Headquarters Battalion Sergeant Major Sgt. Maj. Robert Schieler presented the award. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jennifer Andrade)

Photo by Sgt. Jennifer Andrade

2021 3d Marine Division Marine of the Year

4 Jun 2021 | Sgt. Jennifer Andrade 3rd Marine Division

OKINAWA, Japan – U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Aselia Isakova, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense specialist with Headquarters Battalion, 3d Marine Division was recognized as the Division’s Marine of the Year for 2021, April 8, 2022 at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan.

Cpl. Isakova was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in a ceremony acknowledging her consistent, outstanding initiative and excellent work throughout the year. The 3d Marine Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron, and Headquarters Battalion Sergeant Major, Sgt. Maj. Robert Schieler, presented the award.

Cpl. Isakova was ten years old when her family immigrated to the United States from Kyrgyzstan. There were many obstacles she and her family had to overcome at first, one of which was the English language.

“I just remember feeling lost all the time,” Isakova recalled.

In her early twenties, Isakova worked several different jobs, trying to find something she was passionate about. She worked in healthcare, tended bar, and even spent a year and a half traveling with a circus as a horseback and elephant rider. During this time, she performed in 41 different states and in more than 250 cities across the United States. Although she enjoyed her work at the circus, she also had to persist through difficulties presented by the job.

“We trained every day,” she remembered. “There were no days off, and even though I was always sore and bruised, we got up the next morning and did it all over again.”

These experiences helped her prepare for the Marine Corps. Isakova enlisted in the Marines at 25, citing a desire to give back to the country that had afforded her so many opportunities.

“When I joined the Marine Corps I thought I might find my way,” she said. “From that point on, I felt strongly that I was on the right path.”

Cpl. Isakova’s military career had a strong start as she graduated from boot camp as her series guide and honor graduate. This trend continued in Marine Combat Training and her Military Occupational Specialty school where she held and excelled in the position of squad leader in both environments. She was also class leader in her Lance Corporal Leadership Seminar and honor graduate of her Corporal’s Course.

Her drive, determination, and continual professional excellence following these accomplishments led Cpl. Isakova to be 3d Marine Division’s Marine of the Year for 2021. Earning this award after overcoming the many obstacles along her journey affirmed her belief that following her passion has been the key to her success.

”I want to reassure people that it’s okay to take time and find your way,” she said. “Everyone has their own timeline and where you come from doesn’t define where you can go.”

Cpl. Isakova hopes her story inspires others to overcome adversity.