Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for October 18, 2010 - Spc. Juan Rosario

Specialist Juan Rosario

Current Unit: 26th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
Current Position: Utility Equipment Repair Technician
Component: Active
Current Location: FOB Marez, Iraq
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Years of Service: 8

On an average summer day temperatures in Iraq can easily reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is no day at the beach for Soldiers wearing helmets and over 50 pounds of gear when they head out into the desert. The intensity of the heat underscores the necessity of Spc. Juan Rosario’s work as a utility equipment repair technician.

Currently serving at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Marez in Iraq, Rosario is charged with ensuring the air conditioning systems in each of his units’ vehicles are working properly.

“Here in Iraq it is a safety hazard to drive around without air conditioning because the temperature gets so hot in the vehicles, plus having all of the gear on makes it at least 30 to 40 degrees hotter inside. Therefore if the air conditioning is not working properly Soldiers can get dehydrated or can sustain other heat related injuries.” Rosario explained.

Rosario works on a variety of different vehicles including mine resistant ambush protected vehicles, palletized load systems which are vehicles used to transport standard supplies, and heavy equipment and truck transports which are used to carry large military equipment such as forklifts. The Soldier’s work is vital to ensuring that each member of his unit have reliable vehicles to assist with their specific missions.

Throughout his deployment Rosario has spent countless hours working on the unit’s trucks in the repair shop, during this time he has developed strong relationships with the Soldiers who work alongside him each day.

“The people surrounding me in my section and in my platoon have been there for me when I needed them most. They have become my family away from home,” Rosario said.

In return for his fellow Soldiers’ kindness and support, Rosario, true to his Hispanic roots, regularly prepares a little Latin food for his comrades to enjoy.

“Every Saturday we have a cookout and people of all ranks come to eat the Puerto Rican food I cook,” Rosario said. “I try to do something like this every time I deploy to raise morale and help people forget where they are for a little bit and have some good home cooking.”

The Soldier uses the weekly cookouts to help his fellow Soldiers relax, but also enjoys the opportunity to share a bit of his culture with them. Although raised in Chicago, Rosario was born in Puerto Rico and grew up with a great deal of exposure to Puerto Rican and Dominican traditions and customs from his parents who came to the U.S. shortly after he was born.

As Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15, Rosario looks forward to sharing his Latin American background and subsequent experiences as a Hispanic Soldier.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for us to show other people a little bit of our heritage and our culture, and how proud we are to be Latinos,” Rosario explained.

Rosario will soon complete his tour and return home. As he prepares to leave Iraq, he is grateful that he and his fellow Soldiers have been blessed with safety throughout their deployment.

“I have made it through another deployment without losing anybody in my company, we all got her together and we’re all leaving together,” Rosario said.

Upon returning home this fall, Rosario plans to visit his parents in Chicago and then prepare for his next assignment in Germany, where he will be stationed with his wife and children.

Telling the Army Story: Community Relations

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