Angel Blog

A Tribute to Our Heroes: Army and USMC Veteran Carlos Garcia

In this latest episode of our podcast series, “A Tribute to Our Heroes,” we talk with Army and Marine Corps Veteran Carlos Garcia.

For this interview, he sat down with us to detail why he was drawn to the Marine Corps, why he joined the Army after 9/11, his deployments to Iraq, and when he first heard about Soldiers’ Angels.

You can view our full video interview with Carlos below.

Continue reading for excerpts from the interview with Carlos.

Q: What made you want to enlist in the first place?

A: Believe it or not, my dad had a friend growing up who was a Marine. He was just very sharp, and always talked about the Marine Corps, the benefits of it, and I was pretty much hooked at that point. After seeing one of my best friends who graduated before I did, I actually got to visit Paris Island to watch him graduate. Then after going down there and seeing that, the graduation and everything else, it moved me. They were sharp, those Marines, they looked good.

Q: What made you want to go back in, and more specifically into the Army this time?

A: 9/11 happened, and that was a big part of going back in. I was kind of just realizing that the jobs I had during my break in service, something just didn’t feel fulfilled. I started going down the wrong road, again, which is one of the reasons why I also joined the Marines. Going down the wrong road and just made the decision, and my dad had a big part in that as well. Not that he forced me, but he sat down to talk, you know, “Hey son everything was going smooth when you were in…” and thought about it, and at that point, I was like, “You know what, I do want to go back in.” And I really wanted to go back in and pursue something in the medical field, specifically a combat medic. I went and talked to a civilian recruiter who was a friend of mine, and he got me back in.

Q: So you join the Army, you get adjusted, tell us about your first deployment. How did it go? Where did you go?

A: So right from get, at Fort Sam, where I did my training, they were reading off where everybody is going. “Hey, you’re going to Germany, you’re going here.” And then they came up on Garcia, and they said, “You’re going to 4th Infantry Division, you’re going to Iraq, get ready for Iraq.” I didn’t really know how soon, but I got to Fort Hood in February, maybe March, and right from the get we’re training, we got NCT and we were in Kuwait by November. Then In Iraq by December, in Baghdad. It was a crazy year, it was the end of 2005, and 2006, it was a lot. It was kind of one of those moments, we’re flying in a Chinook, flying low, over the city of Baghdad and we can see down in people’s yards, in the streets. In my head I was just like, “Man, I’m in Baghdad, Iraq,” and at the time it was considered one of the deadliest cities in the world.

Q: Around what time did you get connected with one of our Soldiers’ Angels volunteers?

A: Yeah, early on in the deployment I had, I honestly think it was in Kuwait, and in Kuwait they had a USO and you could do a bunch of different things. You could read books and send them to your kids, and I remember they had something there for Soldiers’ Angels. I asked, “What is this?” and they said you’ll get assigned an Angel and they’ll send you stuff, just fill out this paper. So I filled it out and was kind of like “eh” you know? But sure enough, I got a letter, and it was just saying, “Hey, here’s the stuff that you wanted,” just introducing himself. So I wrote him back, and then I got the first package, and it was after a long day out came back, wasn’t too sure what it was, and then BAM. It was all the stuff I asked for… There was everything. They asked what kind of deodorant you use, what kind of snacks you like, what kinds of drinks you like, what kind of books you like, and what kind of movies. This one didn’t have any movies, but it had a book, some beef jerky, cookies, and deodorant. He even told me if there are things on that list that you want or need, let me know and I’ll send it to you. And sure enough, he did.

Q: Did you ever end up meeting up with your Angel?

A: We kept in touch after, and I ended up getting back from Iraq and then was sent over to Washington, D.C. I worked at Walter-Reed, and I kept in touch with him, because I knew a lot about him. He would write letters, he wouldn’t just send things, he would tell me about his dogs, and he was telling me about a project he was working on at the house. Then I’d write him back and I would look forward to getting the next one. “I wonder how that project went, tell me about it! Show me something!” So we kept in touch, and he ended up coming to D.C. while I was stationed there. We met up, I got to meet him, and everything was cool. It was pretty cool, even though I saw pictures of him, to meet the person that I’d been writing for a whole year. Then I came down with orders to go to Fort Stewart. I was assigned to an artillery unit and we were going back over to Iraq, so I messaged my Angel and said, “Hey, I’m not sure if if you’re still involved with the organization Soldiers’ Angels, but I’m going to go back over.” And hey, “I got you man, I got you,” and he sure enough did, just like the first time.

Q: Any kind of advice or thoughts you’d like to give to future Service Members?

A: Just take it all in and take advantage of everything the military can do for you. While you’re there it might seem like Groundhog Day, you’re doing the same thing, but there are so many resources the military can provide for you. You’re going to meet different people from different cultures and just try to be patient. A lot of times the culture we have here is not the same, so what we consider rude might be the norm over there. Have patience, learn about them, ask questions, and eat their food. Just try to take it all in, you’re doing all of this pretty much on the government’s dime. If I could go back and do it all over, I would love to go to Germany, eat different foods, and just take advantage as much as I can. Take advantage of the educational benefits. Take classes while you’re in save that Post-9/11 GI Bill, and just take advantage however you can.

Again, thank you to Carlos for joining us and sharing his story.

From the whole Soldiers’ Angels team, we want to thank Carlos for his service to our nation. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss an episode of our “A Tribute to our Heroes” series.

Want to watch more? Click here to watch more vlogs from the Tribute to our Heroes series.