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Those Who Serve and Protect

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“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.  ~Elmer Davis”

Veteran’s Day brings attention to those who’ve served the nation in the Armed Forces, including the 1800 students now attending St. Petersburg College. Their individual stories highlight the commitment and dedication that military service and higher education share.

With this day quickly approaching, sparking relative interest was a man named Chris Cain. Chris is a Senior Instructional Assistant at Clearwater SPC campus; he is helping students in Math and Science. He is also a veteran, and currently a student at USF with double majors in chemical engineering and physics and double minors in mathematics and biomedical physics.  

The Sandbox: What were you doing just before you joined the armed forces? Were you a student? Working? Married or single? Did you have any children?

Chris Cain: [I was in] high school I joined when I was 17. I graduated high school in 1993 and served until 1999.

 

Sandbox: What made you decide to enlist?

Cain: My dad was in the military. My dad was a ranger as well and was killed in action in 89’. It was more for me to get a sense of closure, so to speak.

 

Sandbox: Where were you stationed [in sequence]?

Cain:   2nd Ranger Battalion, Ft. Lewis, WA.

82nd Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, NC.

3rd Group Special Forces, Ft. Bragg, NC.

 

Sandbox:  What was your highest job and rank reached while enlisted?

Cain:  E6 SSgt (staff sergeant) Job:18-Bravo Special Weapons Operator.

 

Sandbox: What is your proudest moment while serving?

Cain: My most proud moment was graduating Ranger School.

 

Sandbox: Were you deployed at all? And where?

Cain: Haiti, Bosnia, Sierra Leon, Somalia, Middle East (all over), and other parts of Africa.

 

Sandbox: What were the living circumstances on base?

Cain: I lived in the barracks.

 

Sandbox: Do you think the experience had a positive or negative effect and why?

Cain: It had a positive effect on my personality because, being that I entered when I was so young, it’s where I grew up. It shaped me as a person, taught me discipline and how to respect. I believe it teaches you boundaries. It also taught me my limits, what I could handle and what I could not. It taught me the difference between pain and discomfort. In the military is where I gained my relentless sense of drive.

 

Sandbox: What kind of recommendations would you give a young person who wants to join?

Cain: First and foremost, from my experience, I would recommend that they go to college, join ROTC and become an officer, but if they had to join enlisted, I would recommend that they go in to a field that would be useful to them upon their exit from the service.

 

Chris closed by adding “If a person decides to join the Armed Forces, let it be not for the college money, not for the benefits but let it be because it’s something you want to do that’s selfless and from the bottom of your heart. Also make sure that you understand the meaning of sacrifice and its terms intimately.”

 

Carlos Roman-Sierra, is also a veteran. He is currently attending St.Petersburg College, and serving in the reserves. Here are his views.

The Sandbox: What were you doing just before you joined the armed forces? Were you a student? Working? Married or single? Did you have any children?

Carlos Roman-Sierra: I joined the military and then enrolled in SPC. I was working in the records department at the St.Petersburg Police Department. I now am married and have two kids.

 

Sandbox: What made you decide to enlist?

Roman-Sierra: After 9/11, I felt it was my duty to serve the country. My grandfather and my entire family were in the Army. So in honor of him, I wanted to join the armed forces as well. Also with the nation being at war, I thought it would be a great opportunity to fulfill a desire.

 

Sandbox: Where were you stationed [in sequence]?

Roman-Sierra: I am currently stationed locally.  320th Mp Company, St Petersburg, Fl. It is a reserve unit.

 

Sandbox:  What was your highest job and rank reached while enlisted?

Roman-Sierra: My job is Military Police Combat Support.

 

Sandbox: What is your proudest moment while serving?

Roman-Sierra: My most proud moment has been being able to serve my country, and knowing I’ve kept my family safe.

 

Sandbox: Were you deployed at all? And where?

Roman-Sierra: Iraq, and Afghanistan.

 

Sandbox: What were the living circumstances on base?

Roman-Sierra: The living conditions were better than expected. The United States Armed Forces really try to take care their soldiers.

 

Sandbox: Do you think the experience had a positive or negative effect and why?

Roman-Sierra: It has had a positive effect on my life. There are many reasons; the most important one has been stopping the terrorist from harming our country. I believe is not about me. It’s more so about us as a Nation.

 

Sandbox: What kind of recommendations would you give a young person who wants to join?

Roman-Sierra: My recommendation for new recruits is to serve your country proudly. Be resilient, and never give up.

If you are in the community of a local SPC or are students attending, please feel free to attend and honor some of the wonderful Veterans, at the SPC Veterans Day festivities, On Friday November 11th. They will be held at Seminole campus, Clearwater campus, and Tarpon springs campus.

For further information on Veterans at St.Petersburg College contact Coordinator, Veterans Affairs Jeff Cavanagh 727-341-3216, EpiCenter TE 1-111

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