We do not talk about the War on Terror as much as we should. Most people focus on the previous conflicts or the larger wars, but the War on Terror is an important part of our history and still is an important part of our present.
Raul Vazquez is one of the newest recruiters at the Guntersville Recruiting Office. He jokes about starting in 1943, but he actually joined the Army in 2010. He was born and raised in Tampa, Florida.
He is married to Cristina who is his high school sweetheart. The couple met their freshman year of high school and started dating their junior year. They have been together ever since. They have two girls, Helena and Noehly.
He joined the Army in August 2010. His basic training was in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. His job was a 13 Fox Forward Observer. His job was to call for air strikes and bombs. He went to Afghanistan for 10 months.
He joined as a 13 Fox Forward Observer and his first duty station was Fort Stewart, Georgia. It was not too far from where he lived. He deployed during his first contract and decided to re-enlist.
His first deployment was in Afghanistan. Most people think that in that country, the Army is there to just kill the enemy. He said that is not the case. They were there to help the Afghans out, any little way that they could. He said they helped with kids and built a school. Anything they needed they tried to help.
At that point, the country was very accepting of them. It was an eye-opening experience for him and a very heartwarming experience. He admits that he would go back right now. There are some great people in the country, and he was able to meet some of the key leaders. They were trying to get their country back in order and it really makes you appreciate all that we have here in America, he said.
Staff sergeant (SSG) Frankie Dupree said you do not realize how much we have in this country until you are without over there. They do have some happy and great people in that country.
“Contrary to belief, most of the people out there are very receptive of us and they want us to be there,” Vazquez said. “We are that security blanket for them. That is one thing that really opened my eyes while I was in Afghanistan.”
Both men agreed that it was a beautiful country. Vazquez said when he had a moment to just sit back and appreciate the country, it was a gorgeous country.
Once back in the states, he had always wanted to go to Colorado and the Army offered him that opportunity. He was stationed there for 5 years and loved it.
The Army selected him to be a recruiter. Dupree said it is an honor to be selected for this position. Only the top few are selected to be a part of the recruiting processes.
Vazquez has been working at the recruiting office in Guntersville since April 2019. He said he loves it in Alabama, and he enjoys having more family time. He loves the community and the schools. Everyone has been amazing, and the Southern hospitality has been great, he admits.
Since he moved here, he has really got into fishing. He enjoys bass fishing. Dupree said fishing is all Vazquez talks about.
He plans on staying in the Guntersville recruiting office and retiring at this point. He will be 38 years old when he retires. He joined at 18 and will be retiring just 20 years after he started.
One thing that he enjoyed and would tell people to join for is the friendships and the experiences. The memories will go with you the rest of your life. It is very humbling for him; he loves being a part of and serving this country.
“I love what I do; day in and day out. I love wearing the uniform,” Vazquez said.