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Thursday, July 18, 2024
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McAllen Native Serves Where Future Navy Warfighters Train

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Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Green. Courtesy Image
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Green. Courtesy Image
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By Alvin Plexico, Navy Office of Community Outreach

GREAT LAKES, Ill. – Sailors are some of the most highly trained people on the planet, and this training begins at Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes, otherwise known as boot camp. Every enlisted sailor starts their Navy journey at boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes (NSGL), Illinois.

Petty Officer 1st Class Eliberto Garcia, a native of McAllen, Texas, is currently stationed at NSGL as an instructor with Naval Education and Training Command (NETC).

Garcia, a 2006 graduate of James Pace High School, joined the Navy 16 years ago. 

“I joined the Navy to be a part of something greater than myself as well as continue in my family’s long tradition of military service,” said Garcia. “We have veterans dating back to World War II representing all branches of the service.”

The skills and values needed to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in McAllen.

“Growing up in South Texas, I learned to never judge a book by its cover,” said Garcia. “Everyone can learn from one another professionally and culturally. This has definitely come in handy with both my coworkers as well as the many countries I’ve visited. So far, I’ve been to nearly 20 different countries.”

During the 10 weeks at RTC Great Lakes, sailors learn five warfighting competencies – firefighting, damage control, seamanship, watchstanding, and small arms marksmanship. 

NSGL is the Navy’s largest training installation and the home of the Navy’s only boot camp. Located on over 1,600 acres overlooking Lake Michigan, the installation includes 1,153 buildings with 39 on the National Register of Historic Places. NSGL supports more than 50 tenant commands and elements as well as more than 20,000 sailors, Marines, Soldiers, and DoD civilians who live and work on the installation. 

Two commands at NETC are Surface Warfare Engineering School Command Great Lakes (SWESC GL) and Surface Combat Systems Training Command Great Lakes (SCSTC GL). Every surface Navy engineer, quartermaster, boatswain’s mate and deck seaman attends SWESC GL for technical training. These sailors leave SWESC GL as surface warriors, ready to perform aboard ships operating around the globe. Instructors at SCSTC GL provide a culture of excellence and warrior toughness by building a surface warrior mindset to complement the technical and tactical skillsets.

“I love seeing the look on the students when they grasp the concept of what we’re teaching,” said Garcia. 

With 90% of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to recruiting and retaining talented people from across the rich fabric of America.

“We will earn and reinforce the trust and confidence of the American people every day,” said Adm. Lisa Franchetti, chief of naval operations. “Together we will deliver the Navy the nation needs.”

Garcia serves a Navy that operates forward, around the world and around the clock, promoting the nation’s prosperity and security.

“Serving in the Navy means that I get to carry on a legacy of military service,” said Garcia. “I want to do my duty to my family, my Navy and my country.”

Garcia is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I want to thank my entire family for their support and always being there for me,” added Garcia. “They laid the groundwork and set a great example for me to follow. I wouldn’t be the successful person I am today without them.”

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