REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The U.S. Army is a diverse force, comprising Soldiers and civilians who bring various backgrounds, cultures and heritages together to form one team.
Ricardo Garcia, Ultra High Frequency Narrowband Planner, Regional Satellite Communications Support Center-Pacific, U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade, said his Mexican heritage and the example his father set for him have served as inspiration throughout his military and civilian careers with the Army.
“My Mexican heritage was given meaning to me by my father,” Garcia said. “His tireless work ethic showed me that skin color, prejudice, impoverished beginnings or speaking English as a second language were not excuses to fail.”
Garcia served in the Army for more than 21 years before retiring and becoming a Department of the Army civilian with the RSSC-Pacific in Wahiawa, Hawaii, in March 2019. He credits his heritage and his father’s lasting impression for helping him succeed.
“Throughout my career in the Army, especially during tough times, I have always relied on my father's example of fearlessness and tenacity, which he swore was ingrained in every Mexican father,” Garcia said. “My father worked as an electrical overhead lineman and would go out in thunderstorms and hurricanes in south Texas. It had to take a lot of courage to be up 40 feet in the air with lightning striking around you.
“I would always think of that when I needed to dig deep,” he said. “I would often share the story of my father's hardships to motivate members of my unit when we faced a hard task, dealt with extreme environmental conditions or had to persevere to complete a mission.”
Garcia said his heritage also shaped who he is as an American.
“My Mexican heritage is important to me because it made me the American I am,” Garcia said. “I love this country and appreciate the ability and freedom to succeed that America gives all of its citizens.”
All Soldiers and civilians bring their cultures, values and experiences with them when they join the Army team. Garcia said this diversity is what helps form a cohesive team with different experiences and perspectives to draw on to make missions successful.
“Diversity is important to the Army because different backgrounds and life experiences lead to diversity of thought and a multitude of ideas coming together concerning a common goal,” Garcia said. “As the motto goes, E pluribus Unum.”
Garcia experienced firsthand how different experiences and educations feed the decision-making processes in the Army.
“While serving, I saw how the Army process of planning and execution of assigned tasks draws from the team not the individual,” Garcia said. “Yes, the commander has the ultimate decision on what course of action is to be taken but the staff, which is usually made up of a diverse set of individuals, provide knowledge from either years of experience or education that helps leadership make better decisions.”
The seven Army Values are a foundation that bonds all Soldiers, despite their many differing backgrounds. They are taught to every Soldier during Basic Combat Training, and every Soldier is expected to embody them every day in everything they do, whether at work or off duty.
“Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage are an integral part of everyday activity,” Garcia said. “A perfect example is how both military and civilians in our building take pride in providing 24/7 support to the warfighter and are in no hurry to leave a task unfinished even after exceeding scheduled work hours.
"We call them the Army Values, but I learned them long before I joined the Army from my father whose hard work and persistence embodied our Mexican heritage. Those lessons and the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career have shaped me into who I am."