Veteran of the Week: Maj. Aurelio Garcia leads Calera ROTC
Published 10:32 am Tuesday, September 8, 2015
By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist
The Calera ROTC program is led by Major Aurelio Garcia III, United States Marine Corps (Retired) as the senior naval science instructor.
Garcia, the son of an Army veteran, joined the Army ROTC at age 15.
He lived in the projects where gangs and welfare were prevalent in Brownsville, Texas.
“I liked to drill and wear my uniform and spit-shine shoes,” said Garcia. “I enlisted at age 17 before I graduated from high school. My father signed the paper work. Of the 13 who joined with me, only two received an honorable discharge.”
Garcia enlisted in 1975 as a basic infantryman in the United States Marine Corps.
After completing his enlistment, he went to college on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a B.S. in occupational education in 1986 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant artillery officer in the Marines Corps.
He met his wife, a Navy nurse, while on tour in Spain at a military ball.
The Garcias have been married 36 years and have three children, including one son who is in active service with the United States Navy.
During his 22 years as an active Marine, Garcia was a combat tank commander, weapons platoon commander, field artillery officer and foreign area officer for Latin America.
He served tours in Brazil, Japan and South Korea.
After his retirement, he was selected as the Senior Naval Science Instructor at Shelby County High School in June 2002 where he was called to active duty to Iraq in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2005.
He was in charge of six Iraqi Security Stations in Fallujah where he earned the Iraq Combat Action Ribbon.
At Calera, Garcia teaches naval science, leadership, seamanship, naval history to seven classes of 94 students.
“Every kid has potential,” said Garcia. “What they lack is focus. The key to engage them is education. I try to get as many as I can in college. I don’t want them to quit; that is not an option. I want these kids to do something constructive with their lives. Our motto is ‘Honor, Courage, and Commitment.’ We teach them morals, values and leadership traits.”