Saturday, November 29, 2008

General officer meritoriously promotes Marine on the spot

Story by: Lance Cpl. Monty Burton

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic Of Afghanistan – November 16 was supposed to be a regular day for Sgt. Jose Garza. Garza, a corporal at the time, went to work early to fix an aircraft, but little did he know that was possibly the best decision he could have made.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the 1st Marine Division commanding general, meritoriously promoted Garza, an aviation electrician with the Air Combat Element of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Afghanistan, on the spot after he repaired Waldhauser’s aircraft at Kandahar Air Field in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Waldhauser arrived on a KC-130J provided by the Air Force but electrical problems delayed their departure and left the aircraft grounded for more than an hour while Air Force mechanics tried to correct the malfunction. Garza said he fixed the problem in about 30 minutes.

“I was finishing up some work on another aircraft when my gunny came to me and asked me if I could help out with the other plane,” said Garza, an aviation electrician. “I never thought it would earn me a promotion.”

Gunnery Sgt. Carlisle L. Wallace, aviation maintenance chief and Garza’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge, said after he talked to the crew and found out they needed an electrician he knew Garza was the Marine for the job.

He described Garza as the go-to-guy in the shop.

“He runs things back at our home camp, and he is running things here. I’m just glad the time and circumstances came together like they did and the general was able to do it,” he said.

Wallace said he is very confident in Garza’s ability to be an efficient sergeant.

“I can ask him to do just about anything and he will get it done with no extra supervision,” he said. “And he knows how to lead.”

Garza said after Wallace informed him of the promotion at first he was very nervous.

“As soon as I told my gunny I had finished, he told me run inside and grab my blouse because I was getting promoted,” he said. “I was shocked, but I just ran as fast as I could to grab my blouse and prepare for the promotion. My legs were shaking, but I really honored,” he said.

Waldhauser asked the 21-year-old if he had anything to say after the promotion, but he was still in shock.

“All I could say was thank you, and I was very honored to be promoted by him,” he said. “He told me to keep up the good work.”

Ironically, Waldhauser didn’t depart on the aircraft that yielded Garza the promotion.

“He flew out on a different plane that I had just fixed,” he said.

Garza, who is entering his fourth year in the Marine Corps, said his peers were very excited that he was promoted. Following his promotion, Garza was appointed the billet of Avionics noncommissioned officer in charge.

Although he had just received a very prestigious promotion, Garza was still focused on accomplishing his mission

“As soon as the promotion was done, I went straight back to work,” he said.

Garza said he will continue to learn more about his job while he trains the Marines appointed below him.
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