University of Texas, El Paso-
Future service members, 154 of them, from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, and Space Force were honored during the 4th annual El Paso Our Community Salutes Ceremony on April 27.
Also present were 284 family members and community representatives to show support for the enlistees. The event included multiple guest speakers, video presentations, and various military sponsors for the recruits to connect with.
“Remember you are doing a great thing for this community and America, I thank you with all my heart,” said El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego. “Going forward, make sure you trust who you are, trust where you’re coming from, honor this community, honor your parents, and do good, make us proud.”
Our Community Salutes is a national program established in 2009 that is meant to commend future service members for their commitment to serving their country. The ceremony allows local community and military leaders to connect directly with recruits and their families and thank them as they prepare to begin their military journey.
” You all come from different backgrounds and different experiences,” said Brig. Gen. Eric Little, commanding general for the White Sands Missile Range. “But from this point forward you will all share a common bond of service with one another. You should be proud of yourselves and your teammates.”
Each recruit who participated in the ceremony possessed a unique story and background. Some enlistees come from military families and were inspired to serve because their parents or siblings are in the military.
“I decided to join the Army because of my dad who has been a role model for me,” said Christian Brazero, a high school graduate. “It’s always been the plan to join the Army after I finished high school. I’m very excited to join. I have enlisted to be a small arms/artillery repairer. I love taking things apart, and I love guns which is win-win for me.”
Others are the first to serve in their family and are hoping to jump-start their career or embark on new travel opportunities. Regardless, all will depart on a journey of discovery that will help them grow and develop as young professionals.
“Not in my wildest dreams did I think I could have accomplished what I have in the Army, said Fort Bliss Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Gerardo Gonzalez. “I have traveled the world, from the deserts of Iraq to the jungles of South America, to the beautiful islands of the Pacific Rim. I have jumped out of airplanes in the middle of the night and led special operations missions around the world that saved others’ lives.”
Gonzalez closed his address to the enlistees with inspiring words. “Dream big. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. I am envious of this great adventure you are about to embark on. You are becoming part of something bigger than yourself, and it will be one of the greatest experiences of your life.”