FORT POLK, La. – “I joined the Army because I wanted to serve, protect and give back to the country that gave me so many opportunities,” said U.S. Army Spc. Siegfred R. Velarde. “It felt great knowing that I was a part of something that allowed the installation to sustain and continue its recovery mission.”
Velarde, a tactical power generation specialist with Bravo Company, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, helped keep power flowing across Fort Polk, Louisiana, after Hurricane Laura knocked out power, Aug. 27.
Hurricane Laura made landfall shortly after midnight as a Category 4 hurricane, 120 miles south of Fort Polk. The hurricane left hundreds of thousands of people across south-central Louisiana without electricity.
“After Laura hit the base, I got called in and responded to troubleshoot and fix three generators that were mission-essential at the time,” Velarde said. “The generators were at the battalion, the company and the NEC building.”
The generator supplying power to the Network Enterprise Center enabled the installation to have internet and email capabilities, aiding post headquarters with the ability to have command and control over relief efforts across the installation.
His battalion, 710th BSB provided sustainment operations to the Fort Polk community during the recovery phase of the storm.
“I feel great about what I did,” said Velarde. “I personally think that if I had not troubleshot and fixed those generators, the mission would not have gone on. We needed power and electricity for our equipment to run and to keep the mission going.”
Originally from Manila, Philippines, Velarde immigrated to the United States in 2016. He joined the Army and attended basic combat training in February 2017.
Being a dual military member, Velarde said he understands the importance of working together as a team to ensure everyone is taken care of.
He also went on to explain no job in the military is easy. Regardless of your job or position, you have to do your part.
“When it comes to being a mechanic, stuff won’t always be easy to fix,” Velarde said. “As long as you don’t give up, look through the TMs and ask for guidance from your NCOs, you’ll be able to fix anything.”
When asked about any long-term military goals, Velarde said he plans on staying in the full 20 years. Right now, he is preparing to attend the Basic Leader Course so that he can earn the rank of sergeant.