TF Ramrod Soldier helps others stay connected
November 10, 2011
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- U.S. Army Spc. Luis Torres has been in the Army for less than three years, but that short amount of time has provided many opportunities for studying what many fellow Soldiers value at Forward Operating Base Andar, Ghazni province.
A satellite communication systems operator from San Antonio, Texas, Torres is able to offer assistance to his comrades where they want it most.
"Everybody will say that lodging, chow and mail are the most important things about deployment, but if you don't have Internet they're upset about it," said Torres.
A member of 1st Platoon, Company C, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, Torres is on his first deployment. He joined the Army for the same patriotic reason many others have, but enlisting in his late 30s also provided additional motivation.
"I joined the Army because I wanted to serve my country and because I knew that I could maintain the standard as well as younger Soldiers," he said.
His superiors agree.
"He's an outstanding soldier. Torres is one of those soldiers who are going to do a job until it's done," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ebony Likely, a native of Rochester, N.Y., and the telecommunications supervisor for 1st Platoon, Company C.
Being away from his family during the deployment, which remained at Fort Knox, Ky., has presented its challenges for Torres. Married to wife Michelle for the 16 years, the couple has four sons and two daughters. Despite the large family and joining the Army later than most, however, Torres is looking for more than just a taste of military life.
"I'm looking to make the Army a career," said Torres.
He's long been interested in signal technology, largely because of its importance in connecting all deployed units across theater. All phone and computer messages are combined into one signal before any message is sent elsewhere. Most days at FOB Andar are spent ensuring those signal capabilities are sent efficiently to all outlying installations.
Signal and technical proficiency aren't his only skills, however. A jack of all trades in carpentry and maintenance, he's frequently looked upon by leadership to build and fix things, and they say there's a good reason why.
"Give him a task to do and before you even get a chance to follow-up, it's already done," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Renau, a joint network node supervisor for 1st Platoon, Company C and a native of Lynchburg, Va.
Recent special projects assigned to Torres have included modernizing benches used in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center and building a new MWR satellite dish platform that will almost double the amount of internet stations available to soldiers.
He's responsible for two soldiers in his daily duties, and says his job is made easier and more enjoyable because of the teamwork his section has developed.
According to Likely, Torres sets a good example for the younger Soldiers, but his most valuable lesson to those under his supervision may be how to deal with the day-to-day routine of a long deployment.
"Take each day as it comes and be aware of your surroundings," said Torres. "Constantly stay busy, look for ways to improve your surroundings and yourself."
During his free time Torres likes to read horror stories. When he gets together with friends, playing dominos, spades and watching movies help to pass the time. No matter how many off-duty activities he participates in, however, it's easy to think about what's really important, he said.
"Seeing my wife and kids," said Torres, is what he most looks forward to at the end of the deployment, not to mention "a good home-cooked meal." He's grateful to the Family Readiness Group at Fort Knox for the help they've shown his family during the deployment.
A career in the Army, perhaps with an assignment to a strategic military signal location showcasing his technical skills is his goal, not to mention a chance to join the ranks of non-commissioned officers.
It's a career path that many who know him best say he's well-suited for.
"His leadership and the ability to get things done sets him apart. He'll be a fine addition to the NCO Corps," said Renau.