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U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Nhatalyne Bordes, a legal chief, office of the Staff Judge Advocate, with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station New River, gives a speech during the 104th American Legion National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Aug. 29, 2023. Bordes received the 2023 American Legion Spirit Service Award for the U.S. Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jennifer E. Douds)

Photo by Cpl. Jennifer E. Douds

Sgt. Bordes - 2023 American Legion Spirit of Service Awardee for the U.S. Marine Corps

6 Oct 2023 | Cpl. Jennifer Douds Marine Corps Air Station New River

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Nhatalyne Bordes, legal chief, office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station New River, Jacksonville, North Carolina is a remarkable individual born in Brooklyn and raised in the mountainous area of Tannersville, Pennsylvania. She is a shining example of dedication, service, and commitment and was recently awarded the American Legion Spirit of Service Award for the U.S. Marine Corps during the 104th American Legion convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, highlighting her selfless contributions to both her community and the United States Marine Corps.

Bordes, who comes from a unique blend of cultural backgrounds with her mother being from England and her father from Haiti, had a childhood full of adventure and diversity. She credits her upbringing for shaping the person she is today, instilling a sense of independence and yearning for a life that would leave a lasting mark on the world.

Growing up, Bordes had the privilege of sharing her life with four siblings, one of whom is her identical twin, Nhadeije. This close-knit family dynamic played a pivotal role in shaping her values and the strong bonds she would later form, especially with her twin sister. It is these bonds that she believes go beyond physical distance, stating that, "no distance can conquer us," when referring to her twin sister, who is also a Marine and currently deployed.

Originally, she had dreams of becoming an influential writer, which is a passion she continues to pursue even while she proudly wears the U.S. Marine Corps uniform. Her collection of coming-of-age stories, which she plans to publish in the future, reflect her ability to draw inspiration from her own life experiences and the lives of those she encounters on her journey. One of the remarkable aspects of Bordes' personality is her musical talent. She is not just a Marine and writer, but also a musician who is proficient in playing the flute, cello, piccolo, and piano. Her wide array of skill sets reflect her commitment to excellence and her ability to balance multiple interests.

Her journey into the world of military service started with a decision that was unexpected and fateful. Originally considering joining the U.S. Air Force, she was immediately swayed in a different direction when the recruiter was late for their appointment to meet with her.

“My parents are always late to everything, and I just wanted to be different and be on time,” stated Bordes, recalling the time when she seized the opportunity presented by the punctual arrival of a Marine recruiter. What struck her initially was the impeccable Marine Corps uniforms, but what captivated her most was the characteristics of pride and discipline exuded by the Marines.

Observing the Marines returning from physical training that day, she remembers turning to her sister and asking, “Are we going to do this?” Her sister confidently answered, “Yes, we are going to do this.”

Seeing her twin sister as an inspiration and an extension of herself, Bordes embraced the challenge of Marine Corps training alongside her best friend. Yet, her decision came with its fair share of sacrifices. The most significant challenge she faced was being separated from her family and intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bootcamp wasn’t that bad because I have had people yell at me before,” stated Bordes. “The separation from my family is what was hard because I had to go straight from bootcamp into [Marine Combat Training] and was unable to take leave after bootcamp.”

Her choice to join the Marine Corps was not simply about wearing the uniform or experiencing the rigorous training, but it was about giving back to the institution that had inspired her. Bordes has a profound desire to help her fellow Marines, and this drive and ambition push her to excel in her service.

“I plan on moving over to the Navy and becoming an officer,” proclaimed Bordes as she confidently stated her plans for the future. “I want to become a psychiatrist and help Marines in the best way that I can.”

Bordes was meritoriously promoted to the rank of Sergeant in February 2023, which is a testament of her dedication and unwavering commitment to excellence, bringing her one step closer to her future plans. She was also meritoriously promoted to the rank of Corporal.

Bordes’ journey took her to new heights when she was awarded the American Legion Spirit of Service Award for the U.S. Marine Corps. What makes this achievement truly remarkable is her selfless commitment to service. She accumulated over 500 total volunteer hours and engaged in various activities beyond her call of duty.

One of her most fulfilling volunteer opportunities involves working with a hospice home in the local community. Over the past year-and-a-half, Bordes has been visiting people in their homes to offer companionship and write letters to those in need. It is not just a duty for her, but it is a part of her life.

“Even if they are not my patient, I still make sure to stop by and ask how their day is going and check up on them,” explains Bordes when describing how she receives a roster with patient names whom she will spend hours at a time with. “It’s my favorite and most fulfilling thing that I do.”

Beyond her hospice work, she extends her service to the community and assists in organizing events and promoting healthy eating habits among children on the weekends. Additionally, her involvement with the American Red Cross and coaching youth sports is a testament to her commitment to making a positive impact.

“In the military, you aren’t going to find good opportunities like that unless you go and seek it out. You can sit at your desk all day or in front of whatever you are maintaining and just do your job, or you could go home and literally Google volunteering opportunities,” remarked Bordes, who strongly believes that the more you immerse yourself in the community, the more opportunities to serve you will discover.

The moment Bordes received the news of winning the American Legion Spirit of Service Award is embedded in her memory. While in the midst of a rainy day on the shooting range, her smartwatch delivered the message of her achievement. She could hardly contain her excitement and immediately asked to make a phone call to confirm the news.

What distinguishes Bordes is her genuine humility and her belief that acts of service should be performed selflessly. According to Bordes, she never pursued these activities with the expectation of recognition or awards. Instead, she finds reward in the knowledge that she is making a difference in the lives of others.

In the words of U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Robert Donel Barbaree III, the commanding officer of H&HS, MCAS New River, "Always treat people like they are important. Always do your job as if it's important."

These are the words spoken to her by her leadership on the night of the convention, and something that Bordes embodies in her service to both her country and her community. She treats every task with dignity and significance, understanding that her actions have a ripple effect on the Marine Corps family and the community as a whole.

Bordes encourages all Marines to view the Marine Corps as a big family, where each member strives to make their family members proud and uplift their collective image. Her journey from a small town to the Marine Corps and the American Legion Service Award serve as proof of the transformative potential of dedication, compassion, and a relentless commitment to making the world a better place.

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