KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan—“I sat in the office with my eyes glued to the television screen as I watched in amazement. A video played of buildings blowing up, and people dressed in ‘ET suits’ were talking about decontaminating and quarantining things. I thought to myself, ‘This is too cool,’” said Sgt. Manuel Torres.
“After watching the video, I told the Army recruiter to sign me up,” he said, reflecting back on the day that changed his life.
The military occupational specialty that intrigued Torres was a 74D—a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist. Army CBRN specialists are primarily responsible for defending against the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
“I decided, that’s just what I wanted to do,” he said.
Torres, who was 17-years-old when he enlisted, has been serving in the Army now for about three and a half years.
“Joining the military is something that I thought about for a little while—I had to do something with my life,” he said.
The Bronx, N.Y., native said he remembers the summer before his senior year in high school when his father asked him what he was going to do after graduation.
“I looked at him and said, ‘I don’t know,’ and he responded with ‘Ok, so you’re going to flip burgers. And, I hope you know that if you’re living here that you will start paying bills.’
“At that moment I knew I needed to have a plan,” Torres said. “I’m my father’s only son, so we are really close, and I wanted to do something that would make him proud.”
Torres attended basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and advanced individual training at Fort Lee, Va. Following AIT, he reported to his first duty station, Hunter Army Airfield, in Savannah, Ga., where he was assigned to the 416th Transportation Company, 260th Quartermaster Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
“I worked as a CBRN specialist all the way up until I made sergeant,” said Torres. “Then, I moved to the battalion operations section where I was in charge of the school packets, organizing the training meetings and the training schedules.”
Torres is now stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., where he is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade. His unit deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 2012.
“Here in HHC, I have a number of additional duties, and I must say that I enjoy them all,” he said. “I’m the company training noncommissioned officer in charge, company key control holder, remedial physical training instructor, mail clerk and assistant unit prevention leader.”
Even with his very busy schedule, Torres finds time to dedicate to career progression.
His hard work paid off as he recently was named the 3rd Sustainment Brigade’s NCO of the Quarter and will now advance to the upcoming 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) board. The winner of that board will compete for the Soldier of the Year.
“Winning these competitions is a good feeling, but it’s not just about winning,” said Torres. “It’s about the knowledge you gain. You can never know everything; there is no such thing as being perfect, and there is always room to improve.
“I plan to continue attending boards, until I can’t attend anymore,” he added.
But there is more to advancing in his Army career than soldier competitions explains Torres, adding that he plans to achieve the rank of staff sergeant by the end of this year and wants to reenlist to be an Airborne Ranger. The NCO of the quarter said he would also like to obtain a master’s degree in early childhood development.
“My ultimate goal is to one day be the sergeant major of the Army,” he said. “I also want to be a Ranger because I think it would mean a lot to my father. He’s worked his whole life to get me where I am today. He’s my idol and I just want to be the best son I can be for him.”
Torres said he works hard and aims high so that he can provide for his family.
“One day, I plan to have children,” he said. “I work hard so that one day I can give them everything that I didn’t have. Every opportunity that wasn’t there for me, I want them to be blessed with.
“The Army has given me a huge reason to achieve things for not only myself but for my family, and it has made me the most successful person in my family,” said Torres. “It’s matured me a lot, and I’m still not mature. It’s put me two steps closer to the 50 steps that are still ahead.”
“It’s shown me what being a man really is.”
|Date Posted:||02.18.2013 10:10|
|Location:||KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AF|
|Hometown:||BRONX, NY, US|
|Hometown:||FORT STEWART, GA, US|
|Hometown:||SAVANNAH, GA, US|
This work, Why I serve: 3rd Sustainment Brigade NCO of the Quarter credits father for his success, by SSG Tanjie Patterson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.