By David Overson, U.S. Army ReserveMay 9, 2019
Many Americans know the struggle of a long commute to work, but how many travel thousands of miles to accomplish their tasks regularly?
Lt. Col. Alejandro Buniag is the Commander of Theater Support Group American Samoa Detachment, American Samoa, but lives 3,600 miles away in Guam.
Born and raised in Saipan, Buniag has spent the past 20 years calling Guam home, where he shares his life with his wife Amanda and their five children. However, those aren't the only children Buniag spends his time with, when not wearing an Army uniform, the self described math geek is a fifth grade school teacher on Anderson Air Force Base, Guam.
As a young boy, Buniag would visit his mother who worked at Hopwood Jr. High School. "We lived across the street and I would walk over and see her after school daily. I was kind of a mamma's boy. It so happened that there were some Soldiers from an Army unit conducting an Engineer Civic Action Project at the school. They were building a breezeway between school buildings. Not knowing anything about the military, I gained curiosity of why the Army men were doing construction at the school. So every day that I visited my mother, I would stand to the side and watch them work,"he said.
Upon commissioning as a second lieutenant, Buniag joined Charlie Company, 411th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Heavy), only to find out that it was the exact same engineer unit that was conducting the Engineer Civic Action Project in Saipan. He eventually took command of the unit.
Q: Why do you serve?
Buniag: I serve because I love that I am part of a team that can make a difference. I joined the University of Guam Army ROTC program out of curiosity. I just wanted to get a taste of what it was like to be a Soldier. It didn't take long for me to realize that I loved everything that the Army had to offer, but what I fell in love with the most is the comradery and brotherhood. I take pride every time I put on the uniform and I would say that being a Citizen Soldier defines who I am. I serve for our brothers and sisters in uniform and for our nation as a whole.
Q: Why do you continue to serve?
Buniag: I define myself as a patriot. I continue to serve my country because my moral clarity won't allow me to just sit back and let others provide the blanket of freedom that we all cherish and that so many take for granted. I believe in the missions that I am assigned. Whether I am in an [modified table of organization and equipment] or [Tables of Distribution and Allowances] unit, I believe that I am part of a team that guards the national wall of defense. I have been truly blessed and will continue to serve my nation.