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12-08-08, 08:48 AM #1
Sergeant discovers payoff for hard work
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (December 5, 2008) -- Nov. 16 began much like any other day for Sgt. Jose Garza when he woke up around 6:30 a.m., shaved his face and put on his uniform. However, Garza, a corporal at the time, went to work early to fix an aircraft. Little did he know that his good work ethic would equate to more than just a repaired aircraft.
That morning, Maj. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, 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 Garza repaired Waldhauser's aircraft at Kandahar Airfield.
Waldhauser, who was visiting his deployed Marines, was set to depart on an Air Force KC-130J cargo transport aircraft. The aircraft was experiencing electrical problems and the flight was delayed, grounding the craft and crew for more than an hour while Air Force mechanics tried to correct the problem.
Garza 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. "I never thought it would earn me a [meritorious] promotion."
Gunnery Sgt. Carlisle L. Wallace, aviation maintenance chief and Garza's staff noncommissioned officer in charge, said after he talked to the crew, he found out they needed an electrician. He knew Garza was the Marine for the job.
Fellow Marines describe Garza as the go-to-guy in the unit.
"He runs things back at our home station, and he is running things here," said Wallace. "I'm just glad the time and circumstances came together like they did, and the general was able to do it."
Wallace went on to say that he is very confident in Garza and the promotion was well deserved.
"I can ask him to do just about anything, and he will get it done with no extra supervision," Wallace said. "And he knows how to lead."
Garza said after Wallace informed him of the promotion, he was very nervous at first.
"As soon as I told my gunny I had finished, he told me to run inside and grab my blouse because I was getting promoted," Garza explained. "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 was really honored," he said.
Waldhauser asked the 21-year-old Fort Worth, Texas, native if he had anything to say after the promotion, but Garza 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 Garza helped repair.
"He flew out on a different plane that I had just fixed," laughed Garza, who is entering his fourth year in the Marine Corps.
Following his promotion, Garza was appointed as his unit's noncommissioned officer in charge of avionics.
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.
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