A Half Century Of Service
Story by Michael Mascari on 02/20/2018
Ronald Reagan swore in as Governor of California during a tumultuous time when the protests of the Vietnam War began to form, as the United States' involvement escalated. The Doors released their self-titled album, the first AFL-NFL World Championship kicked off the game that would eventually be known as the Super Bowl and Elvis and Priscilla were married. The year was 1967.
It was the Summer of Love, and the year Tim McGraw and Nicole Kidman were born. It was also the year Oscar Sanchez' service career was born.
"It's changed tremendously, the uniforms, the conditionswhen I joined, we were wearing those funny hats, cotton uniforms, and the food was horrible. We stayed in Ft. Knox with holes in the wall, no air-conditioning," Sanchez recalled of his early years.
Sanchez dropped out of school at 16 and was hanging out late when his fortunes changed. He began to get into trouble and his parents gave him an ultimatum: get a job, join the Army, go to school, or leave the house.
As he was coming home after being out all night, he stumbled upon a new building with an Army Recruiting poster that caught his attention. He waited until someone came in with a jacket full of medals. Intrigued, he asked the Soldier about it and found out the Soldier was a recruiter.
Sanchez enlisted as soon as he was 17 into the Army as a tanker, as an E-1, and worked up to the rank of Sergeant 1st Class in just eight years. As his career progressed, he worked in supply, maintenance and ordinance during his enlisted time. He was interested in commissioning but ran into several obstacles, he said. But, he persevered.
After nearly a decade as a Non-Commissioned Officer, he commissioned as an Armor officer and climbed the ranks until he retired in 2000, as a Lieutenant Colonel. His service still wasn't finished, he found a new opportunity.
"I love working with Soldiers. It's my passion. I wanted to make an impact and this was an opportunity, " Sanchez said. "That was the main reason I came back."
With a renewed energy, and his desire to continue his service, Sanchez joined CACI as a defense contractor at United States Army Forces Command Headquarters. After three years, the 81st Regional Readiness Command, (the predecessor to the 81st Regional Support Command) came calling. Sanchez concluded his career with the 81st as the Regional Facilities Operations Specialist.
Because of health reasons, Oscar retired a few months short of fifty years of federal service.
"I'd like to believe I've done some good for the Army. The Army did a lot of good for me."
Having accomplished so much during his lengthy career, Sanchez has advice for those coming into the military or Federal service.
"I always tell young people, you can be what you want to be and do what you want to do. The sky's the limit, provided you put in the effort. Never turn down an educational opportunity, don't forget where you came from, and never believe you are better than others. When you lose focus, that's when it falls apart."