“I don’t have to go back,” said Garcia, who has served in the Army Reserve in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Right now, I have what they call a two-year stabilization. But in 2014, when that is up and if we’re still in Afghanistan, I’m going to try to get at least one more tour in.”
Last week, Garcia, who has been a jailer at the Goliad County Sheriff’s Office since 2004, presented Sheriff Kirby Brumby with a medal of appreciation from the Army Reserve. Garcia’s employment at the GCSO was retained both times he left for his deployments.
“A lot of employers didn’t hold the jobs for people who served,” Garcia said. “I had some friends who came back and didn’t have their jobs. I am extremely thankful and grateful that I was able to come back and have my job. Sheriff Brumby and everybody supported me while I was gone.”
Garcia, 34, was stationed in Baghdad, Iraq in 2009-10 and in Afghanistan in 2011-12.
“My tour to Iraq was nine months,” Garcia said. “It was cut short because President Obama came into office that year and he pulled troops out of Iraq. We wound up pulling out on August 26th.”
Garcia’s deployment to Afghanistan lasted 10 months.
“I happened to be lucky while I was over there,” Garcia said. “I had never had to engage where we had to get out of our vehicles in combat with the enemy.”
Garcia, who joined the Marines shortly after graduating from Goliad High School and was honorably discharged two weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon in Washington, D.C., specialized in combat logistics. He transported various types of materials - water, food and other supplies - from one post to another.
In both tours, Garcia made communicating with his wife and five children a top priority.
“I was able to Skype my family whenever I could,” Garcia said. “There were many times when I told my wife I was going to be gone and I couldn’t tell her where I was going.”
On March 1, Garcia was promoted to staff sergeant by the Army Reserve. Before he left for Afghanistan, Garcia had sent paperwork to the Veterans Affairs Department on behalf of his grandfather, Ramon Garcia, who was a World War II veteran and fought during the Normandy Invasion.
“He didn’t receive his medals he should have received when he got out,” Garcia said. “The day I got promoted in Afghanistan was the day my grandfather’s medals came in.”