OTF Soldier Story for January 3, 2011 - Maj. Otto Padron
Current Unit: 2nd Battalion, 321st Infantry Regiment, 108th Training Command
Current Position: Battalion Executive Officer
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Miami, Fla.
Hometown: Matanzas, Cuba
Years of Service: 27
Maj. Otto Padron juggles many roles—from a business executive to a graduate student, from a family man to a military leader; and on any given day, he is faced with the challenge of balancing many responsibilities.
In 2007, he was promoted to the role of Senior Vice President for Programming and Promotion at Univision, but soon after his promotion he was called upon to serve his country overseas as an Army Reserve Soldier. Padron proudly traded in his business suit for Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) and deployed to Iraq for a 13-month long combat tour.
“The Army needed me, and I chose to answer the call,” he said. “I went from an air-conditioned executive suite at Univision to standing at the Baghdad airport in a matter of 27 days. It was an amazing transition.”
The Soldier’s commitment to the Army stems from the gratitude that he feels towards the United States, the home he immigrated to as a young boy. When he was 11 years old, Padron and his family relocated to the United States from Cuba, a transition that he says opened a world of opportunity for them.
“I was truly moved by the generosity and warm embrace [of the United States]. I saw what it took for my parents to leave their country of origin where they were both professionals. They had to surrender everything” he said, noting that he had aspired to be a U.S. Soldier from a very young age.
Seeing the commitment of American Soldiers as a young boy inspired Padron to serve his country as an adult. Motivated by what he describes as a ‘debt of honor,’ a desire to seek adventure and an opportunity to participate in something that was greater than himself, he enlisted in the Army when he was 19 and went on to serve with the U.S. Army Special Forces Command’s 75th Ranger Regiment.
“The Army has given me such an incredible perspective on the ‘can-do’ of everything; the opportunity to lead in the most challenging environments and the ability to be ready for anything,” he said.
After achieving the rank of a Noncommissioned Officer, Padron was awarded a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship to the University of Miami, and at the age of 25, the Soldier enrolled in college. The skills he acquired as an Army Soldier and an ROTC cadet – strong leadership, decision-making abilities and a steadfast work ethic – proved to be extremely beneficial for Padron.
“ROTC exposed me to a new perspective on the Army. It made me a better executive later in [my civilian] life,” he said. It taught me discipline, and how to be a leader, as well as ways of getting things done to meet both my military and professional goals.”
Through mobilizations and deployments, Padron has had the opportunity to distinguish himself throughout his military career. When the Soldier deployed to Iraq in 2007, he was able to utilize the skills he had learned in the classroom, the training field and the workplace in order to aid the Iraqi government.
“I was an embedded military advisor to the Iraqi Army in Mosul. My day-to-day activities were to ensure that Iraqi soldiers were the providers of stability and security in the area. This translated to fewer U.S. coalition soldiers in combat and in harm’s way,” he said.
Padron currently serves as the Battalion Executive Officer for the 2nd Battalion, 321st Infantry Regiment, 108th Training Command. He lives in the Miami, Fla. area with his family, and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in business administration.
He will be honored as a Soldier Hero at the U.S. Army’s All-American Bowl this weekend. The football game will air on Jan. 8, 2011, at noon on NBC. For more information about the game, visit www.goarmy.com.