Hometown: West Palm Beach, Fla., by way of Bogota, Colombia
Unit: Romeo Company, 262nd Quartermaster Battalion, 23rd QM Brigade
Time in service: 11 years
Marital status: Married with three children
MOS: 92F - Petroleum supply specialist. Sometimes called fuelers, petroleum supply specialists supply the Army with the fuel it needs to maintain a state of readiness at all times, according to www.goarmy.com. They supervise and manage the reception, storage and shipping of bulk or packaged petroleum-based products. Additionally, they oversee the use of fuel, dispensing it to various vehicles and aircraft, and making sure it is being transported and handled safely.
Place of duty: Basic Petroleum Logistics Division, Petroleum and Water Department, Quartermaster School
Position: Instructor. Diaz provides basic petroleum supply instruction to Soldiers arriving here from basic training.
Background: Diaz spent the first 16 years of his life in Bogota and moved to Florida when he was 16. His mother was a 20-year Colombian Air Force veteran. When it came to joining the military, U.S. Air Force was Diaz’ first choice, but he could not join due to his immigration status. He was 33 when his immigration issues were cleared, however, and was too old to join the air service, so he joined the Army. Fort Lee was Diaz’ first tour of duty as a petroleum supply specialist. He was assigned to the 108th Quartermaster Company of the now deactivated 49th QM Group.
Reason for joining the Army: “I was raised with a military orientation; loved it; always wanted to join … you know, family, country and honor.”
Describe your career thus far: “I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it. For one, there’s the camaraderie. I still have friends from basic training and my first, second and third duty stations, and I stay in contact with them. I’m making friends at my current duty station. It’s been a great journey, and I love everything I do, especially since I’ve been here teaching a new generation of Soldier. I get to transfer everything I know to them so they can be successful.”
How you bridge the age gap with your students: “One of the most important noncommissioned officer attributes is empathy. You must be empathetic to where they come from, what their customs are and the ways they learn; each Soldier is different, so you have to make adjustments to understand that. Once you have empathy for your Soldiers, it’s easy to get through to them. Everybody learns differently, but if you have empathy you learn to deliver to them the way they need to receive information.”
Common mistakes NCOs make with younger Soldiers: “To bring them up the way you were brought up in the Army – the “my way or the highway” mentality. There are different ways of getting messages across. There’s a lot more work involved, but it is very rewarding. I have 27 Soldiers in this class, and each is different. Getting through to them on an individual level, is like getting 27 rewards each day.”
Why your job as a fueler is unique: “Nothing moves without fuel; everybody needs you, especially in the aviation world, where lives are at increased risk.”
Your motivational fuel: “My family, my team here – it’s like a second family; the mentorship aspect; and working as a team. You see the rewards on Soldier’s faces and the test results. That’s epic.”
Best thing about the Army: “It’s making brothers and sisters for life -- people you never knew before. now you’re inseparable and linked together forever.”
Greatest challenge as a Soldier: “For me, it’s making sure I don’t fail my mission. If I do, there will be lots of lives affected, and that would be my greatest fear.”
Most memorable event while in uniform: “When we had a promotion ceremony in a helicopter (for a subordinate). That Soldier was very grateful that we were able to fly him with the American flag while getting promoted in mid-air. It was wonderful. It was such a great privilege to see that Soldier get promoted.”
How the Army has developed you as a Soldier and person: “I’ve grown so much as a professional. You know, I worked as a civilian and I didn’t see it going anywhere. Now, I see a bright future, I see the career path I’ve always wanted, and at the end of my career, I know it will be very rewarding.”
Goals: “Of course, I want to make master sergeant and then sergeant major. Ultimately, I want to come back to Fort Lee as a regimental (command) sergeant major. In between that, I want to complete my bachelor’s degree and take my family to Germany for a three-year rotation there.”