America's Military - . Ricardo Garza

Spc. Ricardo Garza is assigned to the 54th Quartermaster Company, 11th Transporation Battalion, Fort Lee.

Duties: 92M, mortuary affairs specialist

Unit: 54th Quartermaster Company, 11th Transportation Battalion, 7th Trans. Brigade (Expeditionary)

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Age: 26

Time in service: 10 months

How you pass time: “When I get off work, I go to the gym. After that, it’s watching movies and TV shows.”

Personality strengths: “I’m a listener.”

Personality weakness: ‘I’m not always up front about how I feel.”

Favorite movie: “‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)’ – the director created this crazy world (a small town in apocalyptic Australia) where everything is just messed up and you’ve got to survive.”

Favorite quote: “I read it today. ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’”

One person you admire: “My mom. She is from another country (the Philippines). It’s impoverished. Things were different for her. She would walk 10 miles just to go to school. When she came here, it was hard to adjust because she wasn’t used to the environment or culture, and she spoke very little English. Now, she’s a (registered) nurse. So, she came a long way from where she was.”

Worst fear: “Not being able to keep my word.”

What you believe in: “That the world can be better.”

If you won the lottery … “I would invest some, buy some vehicles, buy a house for my parents, and give some to St. Jude (Children’s Research Hospital).”

Your ideal life: “Having a nice family and house in the suburbs, and retiring as a police officer.”

When you have been most satisfied: “My mom has always been against me joining the military, but when I graduated (from basic training), she was tearful. That brought me satisfaction and happiness knowing she no longer thinks that way. She’s all on board, now.”

The historical figure or celebrity you would like to meet: “Pope Francis (real name: Jorge Mario Bergoglio). The way he forms his ideas are different from the previous (Catholic leaders), who were really, really strict. He seems a little more lax. I want to hear how his ideals are formed and why he leans this way instead of following tradition.”

If you could do anything, anywhere right now, what and where would that be? “I would travel to the moon as an astronaut.”

One life-changing event: “When I got into a car accident back in high school. I was the driver. I was speeding along a curvy road. I was joyriding … the car slid into a ditch and flipped over a couple of times. I was wearing seatbelts. I got out with a little scratch. The minute I walked away from the vehicle I was like, ‘How is my head still in place?’ and ‘Why am I still alive and intact?’ The car was totaled. How was this possible? I started to think I have to be more careful. I also started to think I had a greater purpose. ”

Talk about your upbringing: “I grew up with two other siblings – a brother and sister. I am the oldest. Being oldest is always different because there are responsibilities placed on you. I had to keep an eye on the younger siblings and take care of things while my parents were at work. I did that for a few years, but when I got in high school, I began to rebel. I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to go out with my friends and have fun instead of being home all day. I was always shunned because I was the one kid that didn’t do anything. That’s why it was hard to make friends at school. In college, when I would come home, I better understood why my parents were strict on me.”

Why you joined the Army: “I have a (four-year) degree in biology, and I couldn’t find a job. I originally studied criminal justice because I wanted to be a police officer, but I failed a bunch of classes. I needed something easier, and for me, that was science. In biology, I got like straight As and Bs because it was so easy. When I graduated, all I had was a degree and no job, so I looked at the Army.”

What the recruiter told you: “He said, ‘You want to go officer?’ I said I wanted to start from the bottom so I can work my way up.”

Why you chose your MOS: “I was researching medical MOSs … and found mortuary affairs, something that also deals with anatomy and physiology. I said, ‘OK, let me try that.’”

Describe your job as a mortuary affairs specialist: “We process the remains of our fallen from all of the branches. Not a lot of people want to do it because it deals with the dead. I also feel like it takes an emotional toll on people because it takes a certain type of person to work with bodies without it affecting the mind in some way.”

What it means to wear the uniform: “It means serving your country and your fellow Soldiers, and helping those who can’t help themselves.”

Best thing about the Army: “The people – the Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers who help you out every day.”

Worst thing about the Army: “The restrictions. For example, if you’re sick, you can’t stay in bed; you have to go to sick call. Otherwise, you’re FTR (failure to report).”

Future plans: “I was thinking of changing to be a dog handler or military policeman. If not, I will just get out of the military and become a policeman.”