Gunny to First Sergeant Flores

Fri, 10/26/2018 - 13:25
Photographer: Laurie Pearson

Retired Gunnery Sgt. and current civilian employee in Railway Operations, Antiono Flores Jr., explains the dynamics of properly securing equipment on railcars to Army Soldiers, on the Yermo Annex aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., Oct. 11. The training is part of an 80 hour course offered through the Marine Corps Training Information Management System and available to all branches of the military.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow
Story by Laurie Pearson
Thursday, October 25, 2018
Gunnery Sergeant Antonio Flores, served in the Marine Corps for over 20 years, and has now signed on with the California Cadet Corps as a First Sergeant, serving the 32nd Regiment, 18th Brigade located at Riverside Preparatory School as of this month.

Flores retired from the Marine Corps in September 2017, then underwent the extended application process and returned to Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow’s Railway Operations team in June 2018. In the interim, he assisted the CACC at Riverside Prep where four of his daughters are currently attending school.

“I had one daughter on the volleyball team there and one with the CACC,” he said. “So, I spent several months as the head coach for the middle school girls’ volleyball team, and got involved with assisting the CACC, too.

After working with them most of the school year, they invited me to be an Assistant Commandant of Cadets.”

As he assumed civilian duties here on base, he began the formal application process for the CACC.

“I just received my appointment letter from the State of California – Military Department, to be a First Sergeant, and the Senior Enlisted Advisor at RSP School,” he said.

The campus has a middle school and a high school CACC program, with approximately 40 students involved in the program at this time, with a mix of males and females. The program uses an Army foundation to teach leadership skills to the students.

“The program is different than some programs I’ve seen,” Flores explained. “They allow senior classmen in the program to do most of the teaching. The Commandant teaches them the baseline, then turns it over to senior ranking cadets who are usually juniors and seniors from the high school, who then teach the younger cadets.”

One of their goals is to teach cadets to be better citizens and instruct them on leadership skills and traits. An event the CACC participates in is the Team Extreme Challenge which takes place at Los Alamitos, Joint Air Force Base. That challenge includes CACC cadets and Junior Reserve Officer Training Course cadets. Yet another is to participate in a summer encampment.

“The Summer Encampment teaches leadership, but also includes a mixture of learning opportunities for certifications,” he said. “For instance, they can get certified in security, first aid, and other first responder types of responsibilities. Once they successfully complete the program, the school receives a report with who is certified in which types of activities so that they can use those skills in future scenarios.”

Flores joined the Marine Corps in 1997 as a Paralegal, serving in Quantico, Virginia and Okinawa, Japan. Since then he has served on Marine Security Guard Duty, with assignments in Lima, Peru; Yerevan, Armenia, and Nairobi, Kenya. He then served as a Criminal Investigator and Crisis Hostage Negotiator, in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and in Iraq. He eventually became a Drill Instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. After DI duty, Flores was promoted as Operations Chief in Criminal Investigations, in Afghanistan and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Upon arrival at Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Flores was assigned as the Company Gunnery Sergeant, and appointed as the Mounted Color Guard Staff Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge. He finished out his enlistment years in Railway Operations, where he reported to Chad Hildebrandt, Railway Operations supervisor.

“In addition to my normal duties, I was also a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, Martial Arts Instructor, a Marksmanship Coach and a Marksmanship Instructor Trainer,” he said. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a real favor to me, putting me out with RailOps. It turned out to be a really good fit, so once I retired, I was eager to come back as a civilian to do what we do out here.”

The days are long, and the work grueling at times, with the crew often working in extreme weather conditions, but they do not complain. They do what they need to do, in order to ensure that they meet mission demands.

“He has been a great addition to our team,” said Master Sgt. Patrick Grabowski, Railway Operations chief. “It was nice to have him before, while on active duty. Now, as a permanent member, he adds continuity to our training team. As we continue to grow, his experience as a teacher and coach is an invaluable asset…. No comment on him becoming a Soldier!”