Raymond Torres and I recently met at the Corner Bakery in Awesometown for 3 ½ hours and did not conclude our interview as we hit it off so well that tangents were flying everywhere. Raymond is a solid patriot whom I highly respect. Hooked on the Marine Corps Raymond was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico November 9, 1968 and as a youngster, his family immigrated to Southern California. He grew up in Glendora graduating from Glendora High School June 1986. By the sixth grade, Raymond had become fascinated with all things military particularly the U.S. Marine Corps and at age 13 he wrote letters to Marine recruiters seeking age qualifications for enlisting. Upon receipt of unclear boiler plate responses he managed to visit a recruiter’s office; those Marine recruiters were blown away at his young age and his strong desire to be one of them. That led to a day trip to Camp Pendleton and once he saw the tanks and other military hardware, he was hooked more than ever. Three days after his 17th birthday, Raymond enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and underwent recruit training at Marine Corps recruit depot, San Diego. Infantry Training In February 1987, Lance Corporal Raymond Torres completed Infantry Training School at Camp Pendleton with the Primary MOS of Anti-Tank Assault man. He was ordered to 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii for duty with E Company. Raymond attended Squad Leaders Course, and served as a Shoulder Mount Assault Weapon gunner, rifleman, and fire team leader while participating in their Unit Deployment Program to Okinawa, Korea, and The Philippines. He was promoted to Corporal in April 1988 and attended the Non Commissioned Officers Course and Water Survival Safety Instructor Course at Kaneohe Bay before departing for the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit. During that deployment he served as assault section leader and chief scout swimmer for the amphibious raid company. Gulf War In June 1990, Corporal Torres was assigned to 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, 1st Surveillance Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. There he attended training at Reconnaissance Indoctrination Program, Amphibious Reconnaissance Course, Army Airborne School, Survival Evasion Resistance Escape School, Scout Sniper School, Navy Dive School, and Helicopter Rope Suspension Master. Under 1st Special Operations Training Group Raymond attended Applied Explosives Course, Assault Breachers Course, and Close Quarters Battles Course. He served as team scout, point man, and platoon senior breacher. Raymond was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for the Gulf War 1990-91, where he drove a newly fielded Fast Attack Vehicle, an off-road vehicle developed by Chenoweth Racing Systems – a basic sand rail converted into a three seat, weapons mounted, reconnaissance/attack vehicle. In 1992-93, his platoon deployed again with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit where his unit participated in several Search and Seizure of Iraqi ships attempting to bypass shipping blockades established in the Persian Gulf. Guantanamo Bay Corporal Torres was promoted to Sergeant in 1993 and shortly thereafter assigned to Marine Barracks, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While assigned to Ground Defense Force/Rifle Security Company-Windward, Sergeant Torres served as Sergeant of the Guard and Platoon Sergeant. During his one year tour he served in a platoon of 49 Marines including Non Commissioned Officers. Along with the “week-on, week-off” guard duty schedule, Sergeant Torres led over 100 reconnaissance and security patrols around Gitmo’s perimeter fence line. Training – Training – Training In 1994, Raymond transferred to 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, Camp Pendleton. From there he attended Military Free Fall Parachute training, Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape training at John F Kennedy Special Warfare Center Fort Bragg; Driver training at Bill Scott Racing Summit Point Motorsports in West Virginia; Outboard Motor Repair School, Combatant Diver Course; and Low-Level Parachute Jumpmaster School. And yet, he had more training with 1st Special Operations Training Group including courses at Applied Explosives, Assault Breachers, Urban Reconnaissance & Surveillance, and Close-quarters Battle. Raymond held billets as assistant team leader, team leader, platoon point-man, platoon Helicopter Rope Suspension Master, and platoon jump master. In 1997 he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and during this tour with 1st Force Recon he deployed three times. He deployed with the 15th Special Operations, 13th Special Operations where he served as an infantry advisor to local troops in the country of Eritrea, and one deployment in the Middle East as part of Personnel Security Detachment to Marine Expeditionary Force Commanders, Lieutenant Generals C.W. Fulford, B.B. Knutson, and Major General C.F. Bolden. Gunnery Sergeant Torres In 1999, Staff Sergeant Torres transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve and rejoined the Selected Marine Corps Reserve. He was assigned to A Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion where attended training at Light Armored Vehicle Leader’s Course and Staff Non-Commissioned Academy Advanced Course. Raymond served as platoon sergeant, company gunnery sergeant, and platoon commander while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009, he was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant. Gunnery Sergeant Torres transferred to Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group in Twenty-nine Palms, California in 2013 serving as Watch Officer/Chief instructor. Retirement Gunnery Sergeant Torres retired from the Marine Corps in 2014 and his awards include, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with ‘V’ device and one star, Combat Action Ribbon with one star. Raymond resides in Santa Clarita California with his wife Sharon and their four children, Jordan, Justin, Jared, and Joshua.