War on Terrorism

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Face of Defense: Soldier Helps Comrades Stay Net-connected

By Army Staff Sgt. John Zumer
1st Infantry Division

FORWARD OPERATING BASE ANDAR, Afghanistan, Nov. 14, 2011 – Army Spc. Luis Torres uses his communications know-how to keep his comrades connected to the outside world from this military base in Ghazni province.

"Everybody will say that lodging, chow and mail are the most-important things about deployment, but if you don't have Internet they're upset about it," said Torres, a satellite communication systems operator from San Antonio.

Torres has been in the Army about three years and he’s on his first deployment. A member of 1st Platoon, Company C, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, he said he joined the Army for the same reasons as many others.

Enlisting in his late 30s, he said, has provided additional motivation.

"I joined the Army because I wanted to serve my country,” he said, “and because I knew that I could maintain the standard as well as younger soldiers.”

His superiors agree.

"He's an outstanding soldier. Torres is one of those soldiers who are going to do a job until it's done," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Ebony Likely, a communications supervisor who hails from Rochester, N.Y.

"I'm looking to make the Army a career," said Torres, who has been married for 16 years and has six children.

Proficiency in communications isn’t Torres’ only skill. A jack-of-all-trades in carpentry and maintenance, he's frequently tasked by his military leaders to build and fix things around the base.

"Give him a task to do and before you even get a chance to follow-up, it's already done," said Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Renau, a native of Lynchburg, Va.

Torres said he’s rebuilt benches in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation center and now is building a new satellite dish platform that will increase the number of Internet stations available to soldiers.

Torres has some advice for younger soldiers on how to deal with the day-to-day routine of a long deployment.

"Take each day as it comes and be aware of your surroundings," Torres said. "Constantly stay busy -- look for ways to improve your surroundings – and yourself."

In his spare time Torres said he likes to read horror stories, get together with friends to play dominos and card games, and watch movies.

Torres said his family is always on his mind, noting "seeing my wife and kids" and "a good home-cooked meal" are two things he misses the most during his deployment.

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