News: Signal Soldier helps others stay connected
Story by Staff Sgt. John Zumer
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Luis Torres enlisted less than three years ago, but he’s indispensible to fellow soldiers at Forward Operating Base Andar, Ghazni province.
“Everybody will say that lodging, chow and mail are the most important things about deployment, but if you don’t have internet they’re upset about it,” said the satellite communication systems operator from San Antonio, Texas.
On his first deployment with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, he joined the Army for patriotic reasons, but enlisting in his late 30’s also provided additional motivation.
“I joined the Army because I wanted to serve my country and because I knew that I could maintain the standard as well as younger soldiers,” he said.
He’s long been interested in signal technology, largely because of its importance in connecting all deployed units across theater. All phone and computer messages are combined into one signal before any message is sent elsewhere.
“He’s an outstanding soldier. Torres is one of those soldiers who are going to do a job until it’s done,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ebony Likely, from Rochester, N.Y., Torres’ supervisor.
Separated from his family at Fort Knox, Ky., has presented its challenges for Torres. Married for 16 years, the couple has four sons and two daughters. Despite the large family and joining the Army later than most, Torres is looking for more than just a taste of military life.
“I’m looking to make the Army a career,” he said.
Signal and technical proficiency aren’t his only skills. A jack of all trades in carpentry and maintenance, he’s frequently asked to pitch in.
“Give him a task to do and before you even get a chance to follow-up, it’s already done,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Renau, from Lynchburg, Va.
Recent special projects have included modernizing benches used in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center and building a new MWR satellite dish platform that will almost double the amount of internet stations available to soldiers.
According to Likely, Torres sets a good example for the younger soldiers, but his most valuable lesson to those under his supervision may be how to deal with the day-to-day routine of a long deployment.
“Take each day as it comes and be aware of your surroundings,” said Torres. “Constantly stay busy, look for ways to improve your surroundings and yourself.”
When he gets together with friends, playing dominos, spades and watching movies help to pass the time. No matter how many off-duty activities he participates in; however, it’s easy to think about what’s really important, he said.
He looks forward to seeing his wife and kids at the end of the deployment, not to mention “a good home cooked meal.” He’s grateful to the Family Readiness Group at Fort Knox for the help they’ve shown his family during the deployment.
A career in the Army, perhaps with an assignment to a strategic military signal location showcasing his technical skills is his goal, not to mention a chance to join the ranks of non-commissioned officers.
It’s a career path that many who know him best say he’s well-suited for.
“His leadership and the ability to get things done set him apart. He’ll be a fine addition to the NCO Corps,” said Renau.