DVIDS – News – A warrior’s story of perseverance never ends


JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – As she sat in her office reminiscing about her life journey to becoming a U.S. Army soldier, Master Sgt. Kathryan Torres, Senior Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for US Army South, shed tears thinking about the recent passing of her father.

“My dad was the most inspirational person to me, although we didn’t always agree,” Torres said emotionally. “He came to California from Puerto Rico as a young man, barely able to speak English, to pursue his dreams.”

His father’s adventurous nature has rubbed off on Torres who is the middle child of three sisters.

From Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Torres was interested in sports and the outdoors while her sisters were more concerned with making friends and going out.

“I just wanted to be outside, climbing trees, playing sports and getting dirty,” she said with a childish smile.

Between his father’s wanderlust and his mother’s stability, Torres had great but opposing role models, even though his parents divorced at a young age.

Her mother raised her and her sisters as a single parent and worked nights at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station while her daughters slept and while her mother slept during the day, Torres played the role of babysitter for her younger sister.

“My older sister went to live with our grandmother, so my younger sister sees me as her second mother a lot,” Torres said proudly. “I did a lot of housework, garden work and at seven I could cook a full meal.”

His parents placed great importance on education at home and abroad. Her mother pushed her daughters to speak proper English at home, and her father pushed them to go to college.

Torres graduated from high school at 17 and won a scholarship to college in Puerto Rico, but her father encouraged her to attend Mount Saint Mary’s University in California where he was working.

“Making the choice to leave behind everything and everyone I knew and loved was very difficult, and I was very overwhelmed by the college culture,” Torres said. “It was definitely not what I expected, so I stayed there for about a semester before returning to Puerto Rico.”

When she returned to Fajardo, she found herself alone. Her sisters had moved away, her mother had joined the Navy reserves and moved to Florida, and she had no other blood relatives in her hometown.

She began practicing cosmetology at a local hair salon and working as a grocery store manager, but after a few years was unhappy with where her journey had taken her.

“Being back home, I wasn’t hanging out with a good crowd,” she said. “People I knew and grew up with were locked up for drugs or felony or even killed. It was one of those times when I looked around and said, “I have so much more to offer, so what am I doing here?”

Torres said she always wanted to be a Federal Bureau of Investigation or Drug Enforcement Agency agent or serve in the military. The quickest way for her to escape the bad situation she was in was to join the army.

She enlisted as an ordnance specialist in September 2005 and was shipped to Basic Combat Training (BCT) as soon as she could.

“After graduating from BCT and Advanced Individual Training, my first duty station was Fort Carson, Colorado, and I arrived there in February,” Torres said anxiously. “I had never experienced winter, so I left Puerto Rico in a tank top, shorts and flip flops. Just before landing, the pilot said it was nine degrees in Colorado Springs.

Torres said she was fortunate to have patient leadership that gave her time to acclimate to the new climate and although it took her a while to get used to Puerto Rico’s very different weather. , Torres quickly adapted to the military lifestyle.

Torres deployed to Iraq in October 2006 and again in June 2010, both in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

These deployments taught her a lot about the people she surrounded herself with.

“What I’ve learned the most is that the people you need behind you in battle and in life will always be there, whether it’s family or fight buddies,” she said. . “You have to learn to lean on them.”

Torres said her first deployment was very different from her second due to the arrival of her son.

“My first deployment, I was at a forward operating base in southeast Baghdad, and my parents kept telling me, ‘please don’t go there and be a hero’, because they knew that’s who I am as a person,” she said. “Second, I was in a personal security detail so I was on the road a lot, but my son wasn’t even two. So being away from him was really difficult.

Her son’s father was also deployed in Iraq at the time and contracted severe meningitis. Due to security concerns in the area, she was unable to receive updates on her status.

“It was a lot to deal with on top of the stress of completing the mission,” Torres said. “I pondered a lot during this deployment as I was the rear vehicle commander and when we came through the gates my team needed me to be focused. I learned that I could handle a lot more stress than I could never have imagined and continue to perform under the pressure of combat.

After her deployments, Torres went through the US Army Drill Sergeant Academy in Fort Jackson, SC to help turn civilian volunteers into combat engineers.

While in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, she noticed something was wrong with her daughter.

“I was supposed to be stationed in Hawaii, but my daughter, who was about a year old, started to regress in her development,” she said. “I thought she might be autistic, and there was an opening at Army South on Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, which is the main medical station in all branches. So I took the job, I got here and eventually she was diagnosed with autism.

Luckily, she was able to get all the medical attention her daughter needed, but Torres again needed the support of her family as her mission required her to travel often. Her mother helped with childcare as she traveled all over Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Torres was able to receive a compassionate posting in her current position to allow continued medical care for her daughter.

Through all of his postings, deployments, and missions, Torres credits his triumphs and successes to the support of his family, friends, and fellow combatants. Specifically, her mother, Tammy, and her two sisters, Jennifer and Tamara, who took care of her children over the years and always pushed her to be the leader she was meant to be.

“I’ve always had an incredible support system at home, from family and friends, and in the military,” Torres said with a smile. “When you have that, it makes it all pretty easy. I mean, 17 years in the military went by pretty quickly, and the rest of my story is still being written.

Date taken: 21.09.2022
Date posted: 21.09.2022 18:21
Story ID: 429821
Location: FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, USA
Hometown: FAJARDO, PR

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