Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Jose A. Rosales, who served 25 years in the as a combat engineer and a civil affairs specialist.
Jose A. Rosales was born in Fresno, California, to migrant workers. Growing up, his life was not easy. His parents divorced, his brothers were active gang members and he had to drop out of high school for one year to help his mother pay for rent. Despite these challenges, Rosales was the first in his family to graduate from high school and attend college. A year into his education, Rosales met an Army recruiter on campus, who told him the Army would help him pay for school and realize his goal of becoming a police officer. With these benefits in mind, and against his family’s wishes, Rosales enlisted and entered the Army on May 22, 1995. He completed both basic training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Rosales then began working with explosives and demolition efforts as a combat engineer and deployed to Bosnia, Iraq, Tunisia and various places in Europe. Bosnia was especially memorable, as he deployed without any of his gear. He had left everything in his barracks, and he was helping load items onto a train when he suddenly got mixed in with a group of soldiers who were boarding. Consequently, everyone on the train scrambled to give the then-private everything he needed.
Then years later, Rosales realized he wanted to do something different. After hearing positive reviews from his peers about special forces, he reclassified as a civil affairs specialist, serving as a link between the civilian populace and military personnel. He took on many leadership roles; he completed strategic work for generals and worked at several U.S. embassies. Rosales also participated in many classified missions and focused on those located in South America due to his fluency in Spanish.
Four years later, Rosales promoted to a master sergeant, after which he decided to stay for an additional 10 years. For him, being a master sergeant was a lot of fun; he enjoyed imparting his knowledge to train his soldiers, plan operations and solve problems.
Around 2016, Rosales wanted to return to his home state of California, so he applied to be an Army Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor for the Golden Lions Battalion in the Inland Empire and got the job. He mentored rising second lieutenants for almost four years before retiring in 2020. He concluded his military career with a total of 25 years of service.
Currently, Rosales resides in McKinney, Texas, with his family, where he works with the Census Bureau.
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Writer: Joanna Hwang
Editor: Rachel Falconer
Fact checker: Shiv Lamba, Monique Quihuis
Graphic artist: Danielle Kleppe