JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - For some soldiers joining the Army it is an opportunity to better themselves, while for others, it is an escape. From small towns to major metropolitans, the Army can serve as a better way of life and a way to earn personal pride. For one soldier at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., joining the Army was a way for him to reclaim his family.
Sitting at his desk diligently hammering on his keyboard in the production control office, Spc. Perciben Cosico, aviation hydraulics specialist, D Company, 2-158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, works tirelessly to make sure all the unit’s aircraft going through maintenance is properly documented.
For an accomplished man, Cosico, 41, hard work isn’t a new concept. He has obtained a degree in philosophy, a few credits shy of his masters degree and worked for the national government in his native home of the Philippines
“I finished college and went to work in the office of the president of the Philippines,” Cosico said. “I served under four different presidents but serving the government doesn’t get a very high paycheck, but I got satisfaction from the job.”
Cosico made the decision to leave his home and travel to the United States to seek out better opportunities for a career and provide for his family.
Unfortunately, coming to the United States meant leaving his three children and family behind with little money. He knew his determination to be successful would reunite him with his kids sooner.
“I had a friend who worked in the health care industry and he helped me get a job working in a nursing home,” he said. “But I also had to work at a Filipino community newspaper and doing some house cleaning as well to make money. Anything to pay the bills and send money home.”
After working for two years doing various jobs, Cosico desperately wanted his family back together and to gain citizenship in the U.S. To make those two goals happen, he visited an Army recruitment office.
“I decided to talk to an Army recruiter and he told me I could gain my citizenship right away and bring my family to the United States,” Cosico remembers. “I wanted to see if it was all true and bring my kids to the U.S. to be with me finally.”
While Cosico had intentions of attending the military academy becoming an officer in his native homeland he never had the opportunity to attend. But he knew he would serve and made sure his family understood his decision.
“I knew one day I would be in the Army. I just never expected it to be in the U.S.,” he said. “Before I joined, I made sure to ask my family if they would accept me being in the military. They said of course they would and be proud of me.”
Cosico enlisted in Chicago in 2010, where due to his lack of citizenship could only choose from a couple of military occupational specialties and decided on aviation hydraulics specialist. He was then quickly off to Fort Sill, Okla., to begin his basic training and onto Fort Rucker, Ala., for his advanced individual training.
“When I first came in I only had a few options for specialties,” he said. “I could have been a cook, quartermaster, or aviation hydraulics. I chose the hydraulics because I knew I could get a good job after I’m out of the Army at an airline company. I am always thinking ahead.”
Shortly after going to training, Cosico was excited to find out he would be taking a second oath during his short career in the Army. This time it was for his naturalization to become a citizen of the United States.
“Everything the recruiter told me was true,” said Cosico. “Before I had finished basic training I was giving my oath.
The Army gave him a uniform, a sense of respect and a feeling that he was ready to do something much bigger than himself.
“It just feels different to be part of the Army,” he said. “The respect that comes from people when you wear this uniform is incredible. I never had that when I was working in health care. I had a 3-year-old stop me in an airport when I was in uniform and tell me ‘thank you for serving’ and it really impacted me.”
He confessed the only glimpse of regret he feels is that it would have been much sweeter if his mother, who passed away in July, had the opportunity to see him in his uniform.
Cosico had found his military family, now it was time to bring his children to the states so that his life decision to join the military could be complete.
“Everything I do is for my kids. After completing training and six months of being at JBLM I was eager to have them here. I had not seen them in many years and it was time to get my bonding in with them,” he said.
Having his kids and family with him reinforces everything he does in his work and personal life.
“He loves his kids, family and his religion is the foundation of his life,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Reese, production control section noncommissioned officer. “His whole intent is to make a better life for his family. He works weekends at a manufacturing plant and would never let his other job take precedence above the Army.”
Upon arriving here at his first unit, Cosico was handed a very serious task.
The 2-158, found themselves in a bind, needing a hazardous materials disposal program for the unit. Cosico and a noncommissioned officer were tasked to develop the program.
“He was instrumental in creating the whole hazmat program here,” said Staff Sgt. Marc Sparks, hazardous material manager and Wichita, Kan., native. “The unit didn’t have anything at the time so he pretty much built it from the ground up. His work ethic is amazing. You tell him to do something and you know it’s going to get done right.”
For the specialist, this was just another project and he fully committed to it.
“By joining the Army, I see this as another realm for me to serve my unit and the flag of this country,” Cosico said. “Even though the position seems lower as a soldier compared to working for a president, I take great honor being a soldier, wearing this uniform and serving my country. Being a citizen I am obligated to serve and happy to fulfill that.”
As you pass through the repair hangars of JBLM, the name Spc. Cosico, is synonymous with hard work and dedication.
“For only being in the Army less than a year, his maturity and decision making skills are higher than an average soldier," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eric Gartin, a Los Angeles native. “You can give him a task and know that it will get done. Whatever you think is a great thing, take it a step higher and that is what Spc. Cosico delivers on a regular basis.”