A Look at America’s Newest Generation of Fighting Men and Women

Name: Pfc. Philip Florez

Unit: U.S. Army Dental Clinic Command (Bull Dental Clinic)

MOS: 68E – dental specialist

Age: 19

Time in service: 13 months

Hometown: Visalia, Calif.

Family: parents, Edward and Bertha Florez; girlfriend, Melissa Romero

Favorite football team: “The Atlanta Falcons.”

Your dream car: “Porche Carrera”

Biggest regret: “Not doing better in (high) school. I had a partial scholarship to play football, and I messed that up because my attitude wouldn’t allow me to do better in school.”

Worst fear: “Losing everything I have – my family, my girlfriend and the things that I own. If it was to all go away, it would be hard to persevere. I’ve worked so hard to get everything that I have right now.”

Why did you choose your MOS?: “My mom wanted me to be a dentist, and that’s what I strived for in high school. (My aptitude) showed up when I took the test to join so I said, ‘I’ll do it,’ thinking it could get me hooked up with becoming a dentist. It’s something I like doing, and I’m able to teach someone who doesn’t know. That’s what feels good.”

Have you figured out what it means to be a Soldier?: “I have, but it’s not whether I’ve figured it out, but rather ‘Do I know what it takes to be a Soldier?’ It takes a lot of sacrifice. We don’t have as much freedom as civilians do. I didn’t know that when I first joined the Army. I thought you just do this or that. When you look at civilians, it’s like ‘Do they know what we’re giving up to do this?’ I know a lot of them appreciate us, and I like that. But a lot of them tend not to know. Maybe they are naïve or maybe they just don’t like us. When people act like that, it’s like they just don’t know how much we give up so that they can do what they want to do.”

Why did you join the Army? Did you do it for dad or mom?: “My mom didn’t want me to do it. My dad’s exact words were: ‘I want you to do it because you want to do it.’ The reason why I joined, well, it happened one night: every time I tried to go to sleep, I got this vision of the future. This is the time that I had the attitude. It was like something was telling me to do something. There’s poverty everywhere in Visalia. I didn’t want to be a bum. The Army was the means to an end.”

What are your thoughts about deployments?: “When I joined the Army, I joined during a time of war. I knew there was a chance of going. That’s what I signed up for. I want to be able to say, ‘I did my part.’”

One best thing about the Army: “They take care of you the best way they can.”

What motivates you to serve, knowing that you could be sent off to war?: “From when I was young until I was 18, I got to do whatever I wanted to do. I got to watch TV, go to bed whenever I wanted to. Whenever I saw a Soldier, I always thought highly of them. I looked at them as though they were perfect. When I wear this uniform, people look at me in the same way. It gives me a good feeling, a feeling that makes me want to keep doing what I’m doing. There are times when you want to see your parents but you can’t. Just the acknowledgment of people saying, ‘Hey, thanks for your service’ – nothing motivates me more than hearing that.”

Goals: “To finish college and complete 10 years (of service). I want to work toward a realistic point.”

– Compiled by T. Anthony Bell