La Feria News

La Feria Native Soon To Retire From The Military This Summer

Marine Corps Ball November 2022

By Mike Villarreal

Meet Master Sergeant Juan J. Garcia, Jr., a native of La Feria and a La Feria High School graduate. During his time in the military as a corporal, Garcia was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for Combat Distinguishing Device. He also received Imminent Danger Pay during this period.

He received this heroic achievement while serving as second squad leader, 2nd Platoon, Golf Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, Task Force Military Police, Il Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 06-08 for actions performed on 3rd May.

On 3 May, Cpl Garcia’s platoon-sized convoy security team (CST) was conducting a 12-vehicle escort mission, transporting M1114 high mobility multi-wheeled vehicles to a forward operating base (FOB). A few kilometers away from their destination, the CST was halted for approximately two hours while a separate convoy ahead of them cleared an improvised explosive device (IED). Once explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) had cleared that 1ED, Cpl Garcia’s CST continued its movement, and upon passing through the area that had previously been cordoned, the rear vehicle was attacked with a second IED which EOD or the previous unit had not detected. The vehicle immediately burst into flames.

Upon detonation of the IED, Cpl Garcia immediately directed his squad back to the location of vehicle 12, which was completely destroyed by the IED. Three of the Marines in that vehicle were burned or still on fire, and a fourth was non-responsive in a state of shock.

Cpl Garcia immediately ordered his squad to conduct 5-25 meter checks and perimeter security sweeps in order to search for additional IEDs, possible triggermen, or follow-on attacks, which are common in that area. He simultaneously assisted the platoon sergeant in quickly moving the squad away from the burning vehicle, in which ordnance began to ignite and cook off. Cpl Garcia and his corpsman then proceeded to assess and treat the wounded Marines.

Cpl Garcia established a casualty collection point in one of his vehicles, began preparing for a ground casualty evacuation (CASVAC) into a local FOB, and passed critical information to the convoy commander and assistant convoy commander.

With limited direction, Cpl Garcia quickly loaded the wounded Marines into the ground CASVAC vehicle and personally led the security escort from the blast site to the FOB’s aid station. Cpl Garcia’s successful implementation of the battle drills, exceptional decision-making, and decisive initiative provided for the rapid evacuation of the wounded to the FOB for treatment and prevented a bad situation from becoming much worse.

Cpl Garcia continued to maintain contact with the convoy commander during the CASVAC and passed vital situation updates, allowing higher to understand the status of the wounded Marines accurately. (Summary of Action)

Master Sergeant Garcia is a distinguished alumnus from La Feria High School, having graduated with honors in the Class of 2002. His family is an integral part of the La Feria community, and their contributions to the area are much appreciated. Despite facing various challenges, (MSgt) Garcia’s determination and hard work enabled him to become a first-generation college graduate. Over the years, he has had the privilege of traveling to different countries, meeting with dignitaries, and interacting with celebrities.

These experiences have broadened his horizons and enriched his life, all thanks to his 21 years and 10 months of dedicated service to our great country in the Marine Corps. Master Sergeant Garcia’s upcoming retirement this summer marks the end of a remarkable career, and we honor his service and sacrifice.
Photos by Master Sergeant Juan J. Garcia, Jr.

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