CAMP LEATHERNECK, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - He never thought he would join the police department, much less the military. After three deployments and a decade of service, he knows he still has more to give.
Sgt. Victor Reynoso, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native and vehicle commander with Combat Logistics Regiment 2, Regional Command (Southwest), developed a strong urge to give back to the nation that became his home.
“I came here when I was 2 years old,” said Reynoso, whose family moved to New York City from Peru. “This country has welcomed me and treated me well. It’s given a lot of opportunities to me and my family. One of the ways I could give back was by joining the Marine Corps and going out to fight and give it my all for the people.”
Though he always had an urge to repay the country that welcomed him, the path was not originally clear for Reynoso. That changed after Sept. 11.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center, Reynoso directed his energy toward his city and nation. He enlisted into the Marine Corps in 2003. He joined the New York Police Department a few years later.
“When I joined the Marine Corps, it changed my life,” said Reynoso. “I never thought I’d join the Marines, the military or the police department. The Marine Corps gave me structure, and I felt like that was what I should be doing with my life – helping people.”
Reynoso has two lives. He’s deployed to Africa, Iraq and now Afghanistan as a Marine reservist. His civilian life is dedicated to the people of New York.
“It’s not easy,” he confessed. “You have to be able to balance your life.”
His two worlds demand much of his time and pull him away from his family for extensive periods of time. He said missing home is still the hardest part about the path he chose.
“You get used to your routine here,” said Reynoso. “But it’s not the same as sleeping in your own bed or being able to sit down with loved ones.”
This is Reynoso’s second deployment away from his wife. When his unit called for volunteers again, he stepped forward knowing what he would leave behind.
“I saw the group of guys who were going,” he said. “It was an opportunity to lead these Marines and take them into my care.”
A lot has changed for Reynoso since he enlisted in 2003. He’s grown through the ranks of the Marine Corps, and the burden of leadership is now his to endure.
“This time I’m responsible for a large group,” Reynoso said. “[It’s about] taking care of them because that’s exactly what I came here to do. I want to make sure I come back with all of them.”
“We’re all here working seven days a week, long hours, and it’s very stressful,” Reynoso continued. “Being the oldest in the platoon, a lot of guys come to see me as more of a big brother. I try to mentor my Marines, counsel them, and guide them the right way. Being out here for months, it gets frustrating.”
This is the first combat deployment for many of Reynoso’s Marines. He uses his own experience from missions past to help them. He listens to their grievances, offers his guidance, and looks out for their welfare.
As a rear security team leader on convoys, he also forms the last, vital line of defense for the Marines ahead of him.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Reynoso said. “I’ve been given the opportunity to come to this country, grow up in New York City, what they call the capital of the world, and meet all different kinds of people.”
Many of those people now rely on him for their safety from one mission to the next. They started together nearly 7,000 miles away. All he wants is to make sure they finish the same way.
||CAMP LEATHERNECK, AF
||BROOKLYN, NY, US
This work, New Yorker devotes life to city, country, Marines, by Sgt Paul Peterson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.