When did you decide you wanted to join the defense force?
I first decided to join when I was 16. An army recruiter came to my school to see if he could recruit anyone. At first, I did not think much of it, I was just curious about what the army had to offer and what the process would be like so I started talking to him. The next year, he reached out to me and asked me if I was still curious. I said yes, so he invited me over to the recruiting station to go over things in more detail. It was then that I knew that I wanted to join.
What was your family’s reaction when you decided to join the US Army?
They have always been very supportive throughout the whole process. Even though it did come as a shock to them as first, they never told me what to do, or what not to do. Now I think they’re proud.
What would you advise young aspirants who want to join an army? What are the challenges?
My advice to anyone that wants to join: Embrace it. There will definitely be lots of things you will hate. There will definitely be moments that will make you think why you joined, but after all that comes a sense of deep satisfaction. Watching yourself overcome all odds and fears is a fantastic feeling.
What are your family value systems that make you what you are today?
One of the most important values to me is Trust. Trust in your family, friends, comrades, and leaders. In the army, we are all in the same boat. We all experience hardships, joy, fear, sadness, etc. You must trust that your battle buddy is going to be there for you through thick or thin because, at the end of the day, you’ll be there for them too.
How do you see life? What are your likes and interests as a young man?
My likes and dislikes have thoroughly changed after joining the military. In school, I used to enjoy academics to a certain extent. Now, not so much. I dislike sitting in a classroom taking notes and learning about concepts. I want to be out there doing it myself. I love hands-on activities. I like the outdoors and I like a good thrilling adventure, whether it be hiking to a top of a volcano in Costa Rica or repelling down an 80ft ledge using only a handmade harness that I learned a few minutes prior. I like to be busy, whether it be work, or school, or army.
Any incident which you recall during your training?
My entire training as a whole was memorable. I did things I never thought I would ever do. One of the most memorable was when they took us into a gas chamber with our gas masks on and filled the room with tear gas. The had us do push up, sit-ups, high knees, sprints and other exercises in there. We were all fine, as the gas masks protected us, but we were getting tired and sweaty. Then, after 15 mins, when everyone was panting, they had us take out masks off. Instinctively, we held out breaths as long as we could and closed our eyes. The drill sergeants knew this would happen so they made up exercise even harder. Eventually, we could hold it in no longer and we broke. It was like pouring hot sauce in your eyes and breathing in fire. They let us leave 1 min later. It was an exhilarating experience that taught me to trust my equipment.