Dangerous Army missions giving way to education, new career goals
Sgt. Edmundo “J-R” Mendoza Salero has thrived in dangerous missions as a combat communications specialist during his long career in the U.S. Army. Recalling one mission behind enemy lines with Special Forces in Iraq, Mendoza Salero described it as a high-adrenaline, hard-core experience.
“I was a radio operator, and while I wasn’t a Green Beret, they needed someone with my experience for the mission,” said Mendoza Salero. “I learned that my team on this type of mission had less than a 50 percent survival rate, but I volunteered for this. It was a clandestine operation. We went in, did the job and came back.”
Mendoza Salero first joined the National Guard in Ohio at age 25, and began active duty with the Army at the age of 32. As a combat radio operator designated 25 Charlie, the Army offered him airborne duty at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. That’s where he trained as a paratrooper, joining the 82nd Airborne Division LRSD (Long Range Surveillance Detachment). “People have to be a little bit crazy to do that kind of job,” said Mendoza Salero. “But I signed up to serve my country, and you do what you have to do.”
Mendoza Salero has held a variety of positions over the course of his Army career, from paratrooper to jumpmaster, combat radio operator, radio frequency spectrum manager, and now as a communications planner at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington. “I liked the hard-core tough jobs in special units, but I’m getting older and can’t do the demanding dangerous jobs anymore,” said Mendoza Salero. “I’ve been fortunate in my military career with the experiences I’ve had, and I’m in a position now to cross the finish line.”
With retirement from the military looming in the coming months, Mendoza Salero is positioning himself for the next chapter. He’s pursuing his Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership at Brandman University’s campus at Fort Lewis. “Most of my career has been taking care of my soldiers, missions, and holding down demanding jobs,” he said. “I haven’t had the time or energy to do much schooling until now.” He lauds Brandman’s professors as “caring” and “wanting you to really know the material” that they teach in a blended format that includes both online and in-class courses.
Mendoza Salero expects to graduate in fall 2016, and then get his master’s degree. He’ll be moving to Southern California where he hopes to land a leadership position with a communications company. Mendoza Salero sees his leadership experience in the military, and his passion for helping others, as a ‘plus’ when he transitions from the military to corporate America.
“I’m not ready to slow down, and spending time fishing in retirement isn’t for me,” he said. “I want to be challenged and be productive in my military retirement.”
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