Signal Soldier leads his team, embraces heritage
September 24, 2010
- Stewart Soldier celebrates his Hispanic heritage.
<b>FORT STEWART</b> Leading his team with an opened-mind is a key element to successful communication for Capt. Marcos Torres, Jr., rear detachment commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. However, the journey of becoming a leader for his Soldiers was not without hurdles.
In 2005, Capt. Torres earned his commission as second lieutenant after years of exhaustive and draining hard work. He was a cadet in the ROTC program at Hampton University, Va., and a brother in the Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. Before earning his commission and walking across the graduation stage, the young cadet knew all his hard work paid off.
"The last year before graduation was very tough," said Capt. Torres. "When it was finally over, a tear came out."
Captain Torres went to Officer Basic Course and Captain's Career Course, signal branch specific, at Fort Gordon, Ga. He was sent to his first duty station at Fort Hood, Texas, with 3rd Signal Brigade. He then deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2006-2007. After returning home from serving his country, he was stationed at Fort Stewart with 4th IBCT.
Captain Torres contributes his achievements to his Hispanic heritage. Originally from the Bronx, N.Y., Capt. Torres was born to a Puerto Rican mother and Ecuadorian father.
"I always try to understand my culture and heritage," said Capt. Torres. "Especially with my Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian background and what they consist of."
Captain Torres visited Puerto Rico a few times to visit his mother and Family. He visited Ecuador with his father when he was younger.
"I noticed how much Puerto Rico changed in regards to industrialization and advancements," he said. "Puerto Rico is growing. I also visited 'El Morro;' it's where the Spanish American War was fought in Old San Juan and 'El Yunque', it's the highest peak."
El Morro and El Yunque are national landmarks in Puerto Rico. The preserved monument and mountainous peak are historical sites, attracting countless visitors each year.
An element that Capt. Torres appreciates in his heritage is food. He finds enjoyment in delicious, mouthwatering Latin cooking.
"If someone says they're cooking beans and rice, I don't care of the kind of meat, I'm there," he said. "If someone says they're cooking beans and rice with 'pernil', I'm there even faster."
Pernil is a traditional delicacy in the Puerto Rican culture. It is roasted pork shoulder with seasoning that includes oregano, garlic and pepper. When pernil is enjoyed with rice and beans, the taste is truly gratifying to Capt. Torres. Captain Torres also enjoys dancing a little bit of merengue, a traditional Latin dance swaying to fast-beat music.
Because of his heritage, Capt. Torres says his background made him the man and Soldier he is today. His uncle, who is also a Soldier, influenced him to have an opened-mind with his team.
"My uncle, who is a first sergeant in the Army Reserve, influenced me to be a good officer," he said. "He told me not to be stubborn and learn to listen to [my] Soldiers and (noncommissioned officers)."
Captain Torres' uncle, 1st Sgt. Henry Torres, is with the 19th Transportation Company, U.S. Army Reserve, out of Orlando, Fla.
"As his uncle, since he was little, he was my push-up buddy. He always tried to beat me," said 1st Sgt. Torres. "He never (gives) up on anything, that's his best asset. He is a positive figure, and we have a big Family. He's done a lot for himself. He gave me his first coin after he was commissioned. He has my salute."
Specialist Latoya Graham met Capt. Torres when they were stationed at Fort Hood. Now, they are both stationed at Fort Stewart and he serves as her commander.
"He's a good role model," said Spc. Latoya Graham of HHC, 4th IBCT. "He is very understanding, always helps out a Soldier in any way he can. It felt good to see a familiar face. He kept me on track like [he did] at Fort Hood."
You may see Capt. Torres at the Hispanic Heritage festivities, where he looks forward to seeing home-cooked foods of Latin America. Hispanic Heritage month celebrates the anniversary of independency for Latino countries like Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Chile, and Nicaragua. September marks a cornerstone for many Latin countries, in which they now celebrate their independence day.
"Some people see it as a time of celebration," said Capt. Torres. "I see it as a time of appreciation."