FORWARD OPERATING BASE PAYNE, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PAYNE, Helmand province, Afghanistan - Puerto Rico, Spanish for “rich port,” is truly rich in its culture. Much of the island’s culture is centered on the influence of music, a blended, multicultural sound derived from many Latin genres, to include salsa, bachata and reggaeton.
Rincón, Puerto Rico, native Lance Cpl. Jose Amaez carried his love of music, along with his combat gear, with him to the desert plains of Helmand province, where he is currently deployed.
His journey started off on the beautiful beaches of Rincon. Well-known in the Puerto Rican community for its clear waters and breathtaking sunsets, Amaez spent the first 15 years of his life on the tropical island taking in its influential sounds.
After moving to Orlando, Fla., with his family, the music enthusiast wanted to expand his musical abilities. Amaez already had a knack for dancing and playing instruments, such as congas and bongos, but one of his biggest influences pushed him to broaden his skills.
“My grandpa was a big influence in my love for music,” said Amaez. “I saw his love for music, and one day I saw one of his guitars, picked it up and never stopped from there.”
He continued to practice and became very proficient with the guitar. Amaez also picked up a few other musical talents along the way and learned to play the violin and piano as well.
Still, the 20-year-old admitted his biggest and most favorite accomplishment started about three years ago when he took an interest in beatboxing, a form of hip-hop music using the voice to simulate percussion instruments. A video he saw on the Internet actually inspired him to give it a shot.
“I actually heard it (online) one time, started practicing, kept doing it over and over and got better and better at it,” explained Amaez. “Now I love it, and I always try to find new ways to execute music. It just gives you that feel-good feeling.”
Beatboxing became one of Amaez’s most favored hobbies during high school, and he learned to mimic several songs beat-for-beat using nothing but his mouth, throat and vocal cords.
Amaez said he enjoyed the challenges of learning to play musical instruments and beatboxing, but said his biggest challenge came when he decided to join the Marine Corps.
“I knew I had to better myself and wanted a challenge that would test me both mentally and physically,” said Amaez. “I saw that in the Marine Corps. It was difficult, but it’s what I went for, and I made it.”
The 5-foot-9-inch Marine now works as a radio operator for the Communications section of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and is currently on his first deployment since joining the military in November 2010. He spends his days maintaining communications systems for the unit and troubleshooting any gear not functioning properly.
Gunnery Sgt. Jason Spears is the radio chief for 1st LAR and is in charge of Amaez. The Dayton, Ohio, native said he believes Amaez is a great addition to the communications section.
“He’s always eager to learn, has lots of energy, and has a great attitude about everything,” said Spears. “Everyday isn’t always the best day in Afghanistan, but he always keeps a good attitude and brings a good dynamic to the office.”
His positive attitude and eagerness to learn earned him a spot as the communication chief for the mobile combat operations center during Operation Eagle Hunt, a recent Afghan-led operation aimed at clearing the Taghaz area of southern Helmand in preparation for future counterinsurgency operations. It was a chance for Amaez to show his fellow Marines what he could do on his own.
“We definitely picked him to go on this operation,” explained Spears. “He exceeded our expectations of what we thought he was capable of and represented our section well.”
Amaez was in charge of keeping up communications for the entire Marine side of the operation, which included thousands of dollars worth of radios, antennas and other gear. More than 75 Marines and sailors counted on Amaez’s ability to keep communications up and running throughout the operation.
“It was something new for me because I was so used to working out of a static position, but I kept the radios working while on the move,” said Amaez.
The young Marine said he will always have his love for music, and it will always remind him of his beloved hometown in Puerto Rico. But that love is now combined with his dedication to the Corps and the Marines and sailors he serves in Helmand province.
Editor’s Note: 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion is currently attached to Regimental Combat Team 5 in 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.
||FORWARD OPERATING BASE PAYNE, HELMAND PROVINCE, AF
This work, Puerto Rican Marine keeps steady beat in Afghanistan, by Sgt Marco Mancha, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.