CAMP RED CLOUD, Republic of Korea -- Born in East Los Angeles and shuttling between different relatives did not affect his will to succeed. He pursued his passion.
Sgt. 1st Class Jose Ibarra, El Monte, California native, and public affairs operations NCO, is one of thousands of Hispanic Americans who serve worldwide and are recognized annually during Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15- Oct. 15, for their contributions to the Army community.
Ibarra's perseverance paid off when he learned, that he won an Emmy award for his work, "Spc. 5 James McCloughan: 'They Called Me Doc.'" The video featured an Army medic who received a Medal of Honor for saving 10 Soldiers' lives at Nui Yon Hill, Vietnam.
"Tyler Price and I worked on the feature for weeks and it was overwhelming when we received the news," said Ibarra, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division. "I never imagined being so fortunate and was immensely grateful to all the people who helped make it possible."
The oldest of three, Ibarra was predominantly raised by his maternal grandmother who instilled the values of humility and selflessness.
"My grandmother was a single parent and she never quit," said Ibarra. "She struggled so that my siblings and I could succeed and this provided the work ethic and 'never-quit' mentality that I carry forward with me to this day."
Ibarra lived with his father as a child in Mexico and ultimately moved to San Antonio to live with his paternal aunt during his late teens. He earned an Associate's Degree in Graphic Arts from San Antonio College.
He explored different jobs, but found his calling in 2004, at 27, while working as a legal assistant.
"At the onset of the Iraq War, I was watching an Army recruitment commercial where the main character was walking in a suit and as he walked, he converted into a Soldier in full uniform, taking over a technical mission," said Ibarra. "That was my calling, I had to join and find that sense of purpose."
Ibarra began his Army career as a watercraft operator and deployed to Kuwait in 2005. He was later offered a position as the lead audio technician for the U.S. Army Soldier Show and was selected as the technical director for the 2009 tour.
In 2011, Ibarra became a public affairs broadcast specialist and created multimedia products, which aired on American Forces Network, the Pentagon Channel, CBS, Fox News, and other media outlets.
Ibarra also participated in a year-long public affairs fellowship at the National Football League in New York City.
His hard work yielded the Thomas Jefferson DoD Military Broadcast Journalist of the Year Award and John T. Anderson Military Broadcast Journalist of the Year Award, respectively, culminating in his collaboration with Mr. Tyler Price, Baltimore native, both earning the prestigious Emmy award.
"Sgt. 1st Class Ibarra is one of the most dedicated, enthusiastic professionals I've met in this field," said Maj. Elias Chelala, Cleveland native, and Ibarra's supervisor. "He will not leave the office until he is satisfied with a high level of quality of work and always finds time to mentor the Soldiers in the shop, inspiring them to produce great results."
Ibarra, married father of two, plans to retire and hopes to help solidify Hispanic Americans' meaningful legacy in the Army for future generations.
"The most rewarding part of my job is that years from now, a Soldier can look back, and show their grandkids how they served their country," said Ibarra, referring to his broadcast stories of Soldiers.
Ibarra's dedication to the Army, his Soldiers and his culture are an example of how Hispanic Americans embrace and enrich the country in which they serve.