GALVESTON, Texas (Sep. 1, 2016) -- Gerson Reyes was born in Central America, during a difficult time of conflict between his homeland and El Salvador. The hostilities became so prevalent that the U.S. Army was sent to his country to provide aid, infrastructure and to help bring stability to the region. At an outpost just outside of his hometown, Reyes' frequent interactions with the Soldiers soon turned to admiration for their mission, which even years after they had departed left him inspired to one day become a Solider for the Corps.

"I met a gentleman who worked on base for the Corps of Engineers," said Reyes. "The image of the Corps' castle caught my attention as I watched them construct an operating base. I remember thinking to myself, I want to imitate that, I want to be an American Soldier."

Reyes and his family moved to the United States when he was 13 years old. Nearly two decades later, Reyes is living his dream to not only serve in the U.S. Army Reserve as a first sergeant for the 1st 133rd Field Artillery Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, but to also work for the USACE Galveston District as a civil engineer technician.

"I love constructing things in my profession," said Reyes. "It translates into my desire to make a difference and to be an asset to the nation."

As a hydrographic surveyor at the Rio Grande Valley Resident Office, Reyes is assigned to projects along the Brazos Island Harbor Channel, Port Isabel Channel, Harlingen Channel and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Channel.

His most current project has him surveying the South Padre Island jetty dredging project where he completes complex hydrographic survey work single beam and hysweep multi-transducers. He also prepares contract reports, quantity estimates and inspection of dredging operations for compliance with contract plans and specifications.

Jetties, also known as stone breakwaters, minimize wave action along the shoreline and prevent sediment from filling the entrances to ship channels along the Texas coast, reducing dredging maintenance cycles. The South Padre Island jetties prevent sediment from entering the ship channel, allowing millions of tons of cargo, including critical commodities that contribute to the economic strength of the nation, to be shipped to various ports - assisting the Corps in carrying out one of its primary missions of keeping waterways open for navigation.
"I've recently started working on my fifth dredging Jetty project, which I have found to be very interesting," said Reyes. "I feel very fortunate to be given the opportunity to expand my construction knowledge by being assigned to the dredging team."
Reyes is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Leadership and Management. When he isn't ensuring the safety of the Texas coast's waterways and levee systems, Reyes can be found spending time with his wife and two children or playing soccer.