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Sam Diaz interview, January 3, 2020: transcript







Interviewed by Elsa Lopez. Sam Diaz was born in Los Angeles California, but was raised in Chula Vista, California. He is a police officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and has worked for LVMPD since 2007. He has served in in the U.S. Air Force Reserves since 2008, and served in the U.S. Air Force from 2001 to 2007. Diaz describes his multi-cultural upbringing and growing up in such close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border. He describes his passion for serving which he had since a young age. He describes his incorporation within every community he has been a part of and talks about the ways he has worked to serve the Las Vegas community since moving here in 2007. He recounts the tragic night of 1 October, the mass shooting that occurred during the Route 91 Harvest music festival on October 1st, 2017 on the Las Vegas Strip. He talks about the various changes that happened within LVMPD since 1 October, and changes that he has seen in the Latinx community throughout the Las Vegas Valley. Diaz also describes the process of adopting two children and raising a multi-racial family with his wife in Las Vegas.

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Diaz, Sam Interview, 2020 January 3. OH-03710. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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i AN INTERVIEW WITH SAM DIAZ An Oral History Conducted by Elsa Lopez Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez, Elsa Lopez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Monserrath Hernández, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE Sam Diaz has been a Police Officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department since 2007. Before starting his career in law enforcement, he served in the U.S. Air Force since 2001. Along with his work as a police officer with LVMPD he has been in the U.S. Reserves since 2008. He was born in Los Angeles, California but was raised in the San Diego Metropolitan Area. Growing up in Chula Vista, California, he had a multi-cultural upbringing, where many of his friends from high school would cross the Mexico-U.S. border in order to attend school in the U.S. Living in such close proximity to Mexico and spending summers in the Mexican state of Guerrero, where both of his parents grew up, helped keep him in touch with his Mexican Heritage. Family and community have always been important for Diaz. He has fully engaged with every community he has been a part of and always seeks to give back to his community. He has ingrained himself within the Southern Nevada community through his involvement as chair of the Hispanic Recruitment Council for LVMPD and continues to mentor youths throughout the Las Vegas Valley. He lives in the South side of Las Vegas with his wife, Vanessa, and their four children, Sofia, Alex, Marissa, and Mateo, where they enjoy exploring the natural wonders in Southern Nevada. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Sam Diaz January 3, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Elsa Lopez Preface………………………………………………………………………………………….iv Diaz describes his identity as a Mexican American and his upbringing in the city of Chula Vista, California in the San Diego area. He describes growing up at such close proximity to the border, where many students at his high school – Castle Park High School – would live in Tijuana, Mexico while commuting to school in the U.S. everyday. He talks about spending summers in Ajuchitlán del Progreso and Acapulco, Guerrero with his family, where his mother and father’s families are from, respectively. Talks about the jobs he had in Chula Vista and about going to a school where instruction was initially in Spanish. He describes working at his father’s construction company on weekends. …………………………………………………………………..…...……………...1-5 Talks about his Ariano’s Construction, his father’s construction company, and working in affluent neighborhoods in cities like La Jolla in Southern California. Describes his siblings’ professions and sacrifices his father had to make due to the 2008 recession. Talks about his mother and the value she instilled in Diaz and his siblings of constantly striving towards something.………5-10 Describes his teen years and growing up around gang violence in the area. Talks about his mentoring students to encourage them to succeed academically and to be cautious of gangs. Talks about graduating high school and joining the military. Describes talking to his parents about joining the military and having him sign off on his enlistment paper work at seventeen. Talks about going off to basic training on June 21st, 2001 and about the impact that 9/11 had on his life and military career……………………………………………………….……………………….11-15 Diaz describes his time in basic training and being deployed to Germany before being deployed for two years in Iraq as infantry. Talks about the values that he learned while in the military and about spending the holidays in deployment. Talks about his difficulties readjusting to civilian life and about the exhaustion of feeling the need to be constantly alert. .……………………….16-20 Chronicles his night on the night of the One October shooting in Las Vegas. Describes what he witnessed when he made it to the site of the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Talks about changes that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department implemented after the shooting, and how his military training allows him to better respond to critical situations like the One October shooting ………………………………………………………………………………….….21-28 Talks about moving to Las Vegas to take a job with LVMPD in 2007 and about his hesitance to purchase a home immediately before the 2008 recession. Describes the diversity in the Las Vegas vi Valley which his job has allowed him to fully explore. Talks about being a Latino officer working for Metro and his focus on educating and making people aware of the resources available to them……………………….…………………………………………………...29-32 Explains the mission behind the Hispanic Citizen Academy and the goal behind the twelve-week program that is conducted entirely in Spanish. Describes how LVMPD compares to other police departments nationwide and highlights areas where LVMPD compares better than other departments, as well as areas that they are working on improving. Talks about his focus on recruiting the best possible people and about working with young people in particular ……32-36 Start of second session. Diaz begins talking about his family in Las Vegas. Talks about his experience homeschooling his oldest daughter, Sofia. Talks about Vanessa, his wife, and his experience fostering Sofia and her brother Alex before adopting them. Describes the difficulty they had conceiving a child and Vanessa’s high-risk pregnancies when she was pregnant with Marissa and Mateo, their third and fourth child respectively…………………………………37-40 Diaz describes the process of becoming a foster parent and the challenges that individuals going through the fostering process face. Talks about being a police officer but also being a foster parent and the challenges that each represents. Describes raising Sofia and Alex to learn Spanish and the importance of the traditional values that he was raised with. highlights differences between his and his children’s upbringing. Talks about the importance of teaching a second language to his children. …………………………………………………………………………………...…40-48 Diaz talks about the importance of police having a good relationship with the community and of letting the Latinx community know that they should feel safe to report if they have been a victim of a crime regardless of whether or not they are undocumented. Talks about the importance of talking to members of the community that they are patrolling in order to make the community feel safer. Describes ways the community can reach out to law enforcement and government agencies if there are issues that they would like to see resolved………………………………………55-59 Talks about his goal as the chair of the Hispanic Recruitment Council and the changes that are happening in law enforcement in an attempt to try to mirror the demographic make-up of the community. Diaz ends the interview by highlighting positive stories that he has experienced by mentoring members of the Las Vegas community. …………………………………………60-65 vii 1 Hello. The date is January 3rd, 2020. My name is Elsa Lopez and I am here in the Oral History Research Center. I am joined today with… Barbara Tabach. And… Sam Diaz. Sam Diaz, can you please spell and pronounce your name for us? Yes. It’s S-A-M, D-I-A-Z; Sam Diaz. Thank you. Sam, how do you identify? I identify as a Mexican American. I was born in Los Angeles, California, but my mom and dad come from the state of Guerrero, Mexico. I’m still really in touch with my Mexican heritage and identify as Mexican American. We’re going to start with your childhood. Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up? Like I said, I was born in Los Angeles, California, but after I was born we moved over to San Diego, California. My family consisted of my sister that is one year older than me, then I’m the second child, and then I have three younger brothers, so we’re a family of five. Growing up in San Diego, specifically it was the city of Chula Vista, at that time it was the much older area of Chula Vista. I went to a school called Castle Park High School, and there my school was 99 percent Latino. Due to the proximity of the school to the border, many of the students, many of my friends lived in Tijuana, Mexico. They were American citizens living in Tijuana, Mexico, and a lot of them would do the commute every morning to go to school and then go back home in the evening. A lot of times I didn’t see a lot of my friends in the evening because they had to go back home. 2 The other unique thing about that area is that it is very heavy Latino. Then growing up in the area we were going to school in Chula Vista and spend every summer in Mexico. In the summertime, we would go down to Guerrero, Mexico and be there for about three months for the school break, so that’s pretty unique because I was almost able to grow up in Mexico part of the year and mostly would do my schooling in the U.S. I never did go to school in Mexico, but I would spend three months out of the year in Mexico. Who was your family in Mexico? My dad’s side, he is from Acapulco, Mexico; it’s Acapulco, in the state of Guerrero. My mom is from a smaller, more inland town that’s called Ajuchitlán del Progreso, which I’ve been starting to do a lot of research on myself. It’s a smaller town along the Rio Balsa, so it’s a lot of farming, a lot of different livestock, but a smaller town a little bit more inland. That’s where my family is from. How would you spend those summers in Mexico? What did you do? That’s something I bring up a lot because it was such a big thing in my life when it comes from going from the U.S. to going to spending three months in Mexico out of the year. They’re all different. Acapulco is a big city, so there we would spend it on the beach. Acapulco, if you’ve ever been there, it’s a very tropical setting where you go swimming in the middle of the night and the water is warm. Hearing those waves crash, eating amazing seafood, visiting family. If I were to describe it, it was just eating all the time. People in Acapulco, there’s stuff going on in the evening, going to restaurants, going to some of our family members’ own restaurants. It was just eating amazing food, visiting family, going to the beach, going swimming, going to water parks. That’s where my father was from. 3 My mother, the area more inland, more farm based, the way of life there, my family were all farmers. I would help them, not because I would receive any money, I would help them because I just want to spend time with my family. Some of the great stories I remember is that with one of my aunts, she would sell—you may be familiar with it—the Mexican sweetbread. She would sell that in the town they lived in, but the bakery was actually about an hour away; walking was an hour out and then you had to walk back the hour. I would go early in the morning with my aunt. I would carry some of the trays. We would walk an hour out to the bakery, we would get loaded up with all the bread, and then we would walk back all the way in the town for an hour. My aunt would give me one bread. I would have the pick of the litter because I just carried the trays for an hour. She would be like, “Mijo, (Spanish/6:15),” whichever one you want, and I would pick whichever one I wanted and that was my payment for the day. It was taxing because you’re walking through big fields. Sometimes we would have to cut through a bunch of cows. In that area, there was always something that’s trying to kill you, snakes, wasps, Africanized bees. For me as a kid it was just fun because I’m spending time with my family, but it was so unique because—I didn’t do it for money—that’s what my family did to survive. In other instances, we would go tend to the corn with my cousins. I remember there we would start when the sun is rising. You would go and work all day until nighttime. We would pick all the weeds from the corn. There is a specific tool that they use in the area; it’s called a tahlequah. It almost looks like a shovel, but it’s flat. You just use it to scrape all the weeds. Once again that is extremely labor-intensive work, and that’s what my family did to get by. I would ask, so what would be the average rate that somebody would get paid to do something like this? The big story that I remember referenced to this is because at that time if that’s what you did 4 full-time, in a whole month of doing that pretty intensive work sunup to sundown, you get paid about the equivalent of forty bucks a month for doing that Monday through Friday, being out there in the cornfields. For me that’s a big piece of my life because I love the freedoms, the opportunities I have in the United States. Being a kid I worked at McDonald’s, I worked construction, and I worked as a lifeguard, all three jobs during high school. Not one of those jobs I got forty bucks a month; I wasn’t rich, but I was getting much more than that from each one of those jobs. You’ve got to look at the way of life, and that’s why I value the life we have here especially being in Vegas. I say if you want to work, there’s work. There’s so much opportunity. I feel like this is an amazing life we have here in the United States compared to other countries that are struggling. I’m curious. You said when you were in school, a lot of your classmates were from Mexico, but they went to school here. Does that mean Spanish was spoken mostly at school? One thing I remember is that—and maybe just me not recollecting correctly or also something I need to do research on—but what I remember going through school, first through fourth grade, it was all in Spanish, and I was going to school in Chula Vista. It was all in Spanish. I remember learning about Spanish missionaries and specifically the area of San Diego. There are still some of the missions up. Incredible history there when it comes to the Spanish church. Then right around fourth grade the policy changed where you’re going to school in the U.S. and you have to learn English. I remember where half the day would be in English and then gradually it turned into all English school. English is my second language. For me it’s funny because sometimes I feel like I’m losing both languages, but I strive to always continue to work on my Spanish so I don’t lose the correct pronunciation and all that stuff. What did your parents do for work at the time? 5 At that time my dad was in construction. He had different big work trucks that could haul cement and dirt. He owned big bobcats. It was a lot of big machinery. He would either remove or provide the dirt or remove the concrete. That’s the construction piece of what I did when I was in high school: On the weekends, I would go and help him work. It was, once again, pretty hard work especially breaking concrete or being out in the environment all day. Some of the best stories I remember is eating. If you’ve ever worked all day in the sun and you’re tired and your hands hurt from being out there so long and breaking concrete, the best thing in your day was sitting down for that quick time and eating. It was always the best meal ever and then back to work. That was the construction piece did while in high school; it would be helping my dad in his construction business. He owned his own business? Yes. What was the name? Now that I’m thinking back, I think he actually even named his mom’s, my grandmother’s name. It was Ariano’s Construction. That was my grandmother’s maiden name, so he chose to…My grandmother died when my father was in his teens, so that was pretty impactful in his life and I think he always just wanted to pay homage to his mother that he missed a lot. How long did he own the business? He still continues to own it. He still continues to do construction in the San Diego area. It did take a downturn because of the housing crisis. Another story I always think about, it’s kind of a funny story, being in San Diego during the high times of construction, I specifically remember—I think we were in La Jolla, one of the most beautiful cities you can think of if you’ve ever been to La Jolla—it was a mansion overlooking the ocean, a brand-new home. The owner didn’t like 6 the position of the pool, so he had contracted my dad to completely remove this brand-new pool. “I don’t like it here. Just get rid of it.” We were there breaking up this new pool. You see him leave and he comes back with a brand-new Bentley, and then his wife starts yelling at, “I told you not to buy that Bentley.” Then he goes in his garage, grabs his golf clubs, throws them in his Bentley, and takes off. I just remember thinking, maybe I don’t want to be yelled at, but that’s got to be unique problems where, “I told you not to buy that Bentley.” You’ve got to think about that area specifically in Southern California, beautiful homes that are a dream. They have that problem. “I don’t like where that pool is. Can you remove it?” A lot of wealth. Yes, yes. For me wealth is just being on the beach, hearing the ocean. That’s why I love that area. Beautiful cities right there along the beach. When did your father start his company, do you remember the year? It had to be in the eighties. My dad was always about that American dream: Bigger, bigger, bigger, which I think would have been great if it wasn’t for the downturn of the economy because in construction there’s a lot of overhang. When these trucks and these machines break, it’s not…We complain about having our vehicles serviced, but this humongous machinery breaks all the time, and I think the minimum repair fee would be about two thousand dollars. If something breaks, two thousand dollars. If something major breaks, you’re looking at ten thousand dollars. With the downturn of the economy, a lot of people were struggling, so I think that was something pretty major when it comes to the construction business. But he still continues to do that. It’s definitely that is something that is a great business still to this date. Does anybody in the family still work with him? 7 No. My three younger brothers do work construction—I’m sorry—two of my younger brothers work construction. The baby of the family, he’s twenty-four years old. He works for a bank in San Diego. Then my sister that is one year older than me, she is a corrections officer for San Diego County Sheriff. Two of us are law enforcement, two of us are construction, and one works for the banking industry. Interesting. Yes. It’s a good mix. Tell us about your mom. My mom—it’s so unique, their story, talk about my mom, talk about my dad. Even though they’re both from the same state, they didn’t know each other initially. They met while in Tijuana and then crossing over to Los Angeles. They came to the U.S. illegally, and so for me that’s very unique because if it wasn’t for them wanting a better life, I don’t know where we would be, or I don’t even know if they would have met. They met through that initial travel. Then during that time in Los Angeles, there was the amnesty by, I believe, President Reagan for everybody to get their permanent resident cards. Since then my mom has become a U.S. citizen, which is great, but my father continues to be a permanent resident. My mom took care of the house, took care of the kids while we were growing up. Now that everybody has...My youngest brother is twenty-four, so he graduated high school a few years ago. Now my mom is a nurse’s assistant in San Diego, specifically helping elderly through their daily life. Most of it is in private homes, helping the elderly, and she does that as a nurse’s assistant. How did she come to do that? 8 For me, what I noticed is that a lot of times my parents weren’t like, okay, you have to go to college; you have to get a degree. They were more based on always continue to do better; there’s always something you can be doing to better your life and better your situation. For me, my mom stopped going to school when she was in elementary school in Mexico. For me, what I noticed is that she just always had the goal of finishing high school, so she went back to school and received her GED and then began to go to college. Through her licensing of being a nurse’s assistant, she has to continue to do yearly college credits. For me I feel like my mom always had that goal to graduate high school. Once she achieved that she started going to college and then continued to get more education, continued to learn more about her career. I think the biggest thing was making sure that all the kids graduated high school, and she was able to accomplish that. Okay, now it’s time for my own education and my own goals, which I think are amazing because she is just always continuing to improve her own knowledge. When your mother told you that she was considering or starting—as a nurse’s assistant, you said? Yes. Did that come as a surprise to you, or did you think, oh this was bound to happen? For me, thinking back, I was not surprised. But it’s almost like an unwritten rule reference, just always trying to do better. For us and my family, we’re not about—a lot of it is not based on trying to be in competition with each other, or even trying to “my kid is on the honor’s list.” In our family it’s never been about that. But when somebody is like, “Hey, what have you been up to?” “Well, I’ve been doing this. I’m trying to get back to college. I’m doing research on this.” A lot of times that’s the norm. It’s always, constantly taking advantage of what resources you have and then really trying to do better. For me, my mom deciding to go back to school and get her 9 GED, it was like, “That’s amazing, Mom,” because once she achieves that, and I knew she would, I know there’s going to be something else following that. It’s never going to be, I’ve achieved everything I’ve wanted to in life; I’m just going to sit on the couch for the rest of my life. For us, we’re like, okay, I’m trying to get this accreditation; I’m trying to do this; I’m trying to travel here. We’re always setting goals and talking about our goals and seeing what’s next for one another. It’s funny because one of my brothers, Frank, he has a saying that he always tell my mom. “Mom, tell me about your day. Tell me everything. I want to know from beginning to end.” For us, we’re always trying to see how everybody is doing, what they’re up to. I think in a lot of families that’s what’s done and I think it’s amazing especially with family. A lot of times we don’t have time for friends, but when it comes to family, I think it’s amazing when we want to know what they’ve been up to, what are their goals, especially we just had the New Year’s, finding out what my family wants to do in this year 2020. That’s something that we’re always just communicating and hoping to see what they have next. That’s interesting, too. Do all five of you siblings live far away from each other? We do, yes. I’m the only one that lives in Las Vegas. We have no other family here. We’re kind of out on our own. But all my family is in San Diego; that’s mostly immediate family. But then I do have some cousins in the Los Angeles area. The majority of my family is still in Guerrero, Mexico. But you’re not far from San Diego. Right, yes. It’s a reasonable drive. Yes, yes. Once again, for me, I’m a positive person. I don’t try to be negative. There are friends that live on the East Coast; for them it’s a five-hour flight. I can’t be complaining and saying, 10 “Oh, I have a five-hour drive.” They’re going to say, “I had to get on a plane for five hours to get home.” Yes, we’re very lucky that San Diego is not very far at all. Tell us a bit about your teen years. I talked about some of the big things that were in my life as a teen. The other thing that was unique to my school is that—I haven’t done research to see if the situation has improved—but in that area there were a lot of gangs. That was one of the struggles of going to school in that specific area because gangs were just an everyday occurrence. There were fights or taggings or school staff rushing in to stop—I don’t know if you guys know what a rumble is, but a rumble is like this ginormous fight. There would be these humungous rumbles during the week, or police rushing in those areas that they knew there was going to be a lot of fights. I always had a lot of respect for law enforcement. I didn’t get in trouble. It was just always weird where in school there was always this element of always being safe and trying not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gangs were a big thing during growing up. For me, now being a police officer, I do mentorships with students in hopes of letting them know how to succeed in school, graduate high school, go to college, find a career, but also just be careful with gangs and gang activity because growing up some of my friends did continue where they didn’t graduate high school and they got in trouble. I ran into one friend when I went back a few months after I graduated high school. He didn’t graduate high school, he got into trouble, and he didn’t look very happy. I still remember that because especially as a teen all you care about is your friends. Oh man, what do my friends think of me? I think about you used to be an awesome person, but you didn’t even graduate school, so I knew his opportunities would be limited. 11 I think that’s a big focus in what I do because there may be a lot of kids that are experiencing the same thing, and for me to give them some positivity and some, hey, let’s not focus so much about what our friends think; let’s not focus so much on what we have here presently. We have to think about the future. We have to think about you finishing school. We have to think about you finding a career and overall just being happy, being happy to go to work. I share my own story, my own struggles, and I share that I love going to work. I look forward to going to work every morning. For every student I speak to or somebody I mentor, I don’t tell them you have to be a police officer, but to find a job that literally you would do for free, I think that’s an amazing thing. My own experience in school that I hope to teach to other kids that may be going through the same thing. When you graduated high school—firstly, you’re not the oldest. Your sister is older than you. Both of you graduated around the same time, right? Yes. What was that like for your family, celebrating both of those graduations? That’s one of the biggest things when I knew that my mom’s goal was everybody graduating high school. My sister graduated first. Even though in the big scheme of things it may seem small, essentially my sister was the first family member graduating from high school in the United States, first-generation Mexican American. That was pretty big in our family. We had our first family member graduating high school, and then me secondly, and then all my other brothers being right on track. A lot of times what I felt like in school, you either graduate high school and you’re fine, or you start having struggles in school is when you really start seeing there may be a huge barriers to graduating high school. For us, we were always right on track. There was not a question that we weren’t going to graduate. 12 My experience was different because right when I turned seventeen, right when I’m already a junior in high school, I had already enlisted to join the military. My mom and dad had to sign for me because I was still underage, right when I turned seventeen. For me, I think it was a little bit different because high school meant I was leaving to the military. I graduated high school and six days later I left to the military. For me, I think it’s different because graduating high school meant me leaving home and the beginning of this “Sam’s gone away to the military,” this uncertainty. For me, I think it was different, but all my three younger brothers graduated and stayed in San Diego, so I think a lot of times that probably brought my mom comfort versus me graduating high school signified this moment of uncertainty. Explain how you got your parents to sign, how you got permission to do this. Right. It’s funny a lot of what we’re doing here because one thing—truth be told, I don’t like to talk about myself. I like to learn more about people. A lot of times what I do in daily life is what you guys are doing here: asking questions. I want to know more. I don’t really like to talk about myself. Everybody has a story and everybody has amazing stories. For me, reference that question, there’s something about the military, maybe it’s through movies. In everyday life I quote a movie or I reference a movie. At a young age military; that’s what I wanted to do. I started around sixteen speaking to recruiters. I had talked to the Air Force, talked to the Army and the Navy. San Diego is a Navy town and a Marine town. I thought about the Navy, but then I thought about the Air Force and I thought about the Army. It was funny because the Army recruiter, when I walked into the office, he’s like, “Hey, how are you doing? You hungry, kid?” He took me to eat and got me a bunch of chicken wings and oysters. I could have signed anything at that point. I was sixteen years old; of course I’m hungry. I know a lot of times that’s 13 the…At a young age I knew I wanted to join the military. Initially I thought about being a helicopter pilot and then I ended up changing my choice to be infantry and go to Germany. I talked to my parents. I said essentially, “I’m going to leave, anyway. But with you giving me approval while I’m still underage, I have guaranteed benefits, such as college, bonuses. I picked my assignment unlike if I enlist when I turn eighteen, I may just be at the whims of what’s available at that time. It’s funny because I just recently found the paperwork, I still have it, where my mom and dad signed. A few weeks later I talked to my mom. I was like, “Hey, I found that paperwork when you guys signed me away.” And she told me, “I didn’t like that day. I still remember I didn’t want to do it, but I knew you were going to leave anyway, so I signed anyway.” She is like, “I just did not want to do it.” I think for a mother…My dad talked about his dream was to join the military, so I think my dad was probably more, hey, good job. But my mom definitely didn’t want to do it. That makes sense, yes. Your father probably knew a little bit about what the military entailed. Your mom, obviously she was worried about sending you, but how did you explain all of what was coming up for these years to come? If you can recall, what was the historic context of the year that you were enlisting? What was going on? If I were to remember what was my mom’s reaction it’s that—my dad knew and maybe it was his own upbringing. My dad went all the way up to middle school in Acapulco and—all the schools there—I believe he was in the military drum line. The history of Mexico has a big piece of the military battles and the glory of battle, so I think he still remembered that. Maybe it was 14 more reference just serving in the military based on his own schooling and quasi-military schooling. But for my mom, the explanation was that I wa