Written by Sgt. Sharifa Newton
40th Public Affairs Detachment
Fort Campbell, KY – Many people join the Army trying to figure out what to do with themselves and Spc. Anthony Gonzalez was no different.
“I enlisted because I didn’t want to stay home and do nothing,” said Gonzalez, a Fontana, California, native, and a combat medic specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Artillery Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. “I joined because I wanted to find out what I wanted to do with my life.”
Gonzalez joined at the age of 17 after completing high school. He originally wanted to be an AH-64 Apache repairer, but when he went to the recruiting office they did not have an opening.
Gonzalez said AH-64 repairer was not one of the jobs they offered him, but among the ones they did, combat medic was the best sounding one, so he took it.
“At first I thought this wasn’t going to be any fun, but then I started doing it and now I don’t want to leave,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez has served three years in the Army and has been on one deployment to Southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.
“Deployment is where I learned the most,” Gonzalez said. “During my experience I got to do some stuff that I probably wouldn’t have ever been able to do, like work on people like you would in the ER, but there are different rules, different people, and different types of surgeons, so it was really awesome.”
While downrange, Gonzalez met Staff Sgt. Daniel Brett Rhodes, chief of the 6th section, 2nd Platoon, B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Artillery Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
“Specialist Gonzalez is a go-getter,” Rhodes said. “I’ve deployed with him to Afghanistan, and he’s one person I’d like to have on my team. He likes to help people, he’s always cheerful and he’s just a ‘go-getter.’”
Gonzalez said his favorite experience thus far was when he was in Afghanistan and he and the medical staff received their first patients, who were both double amputations.
“I remember I was trying to open a sealing lock and I just couldn’t get the package open and after that I just couldn’t stop just thinking ‘man I got to get better at this, so I can stop being inefficient’,” Gonzalez said. “It was then I decided I needed to get better, so I did more training, more drills, and a lot more tasks that induced stress and bringing [in] more people as far as training. The next time we got patients it wasn’t as bad. It was real smooth and fun.”
Through initiative like that Gonzalez was put in charge of several medical tasks in his unit. Just recently, he completed a four-day Table XV gunnery exercise with his unit, which consisted of a battery offense and a battery defense. In efforts to make the training the most realistic as possible, the unit had opposition forces that did anything from small arms attacks, indirect fire, Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear attacks to complex and blocked ambushes. It was at the exercise where he got another opportunity to train Soldiers and himself.
Gonzalez said he likes the Army because of all the benefits they give to people. He likes field artillery and infantry because they go out to the field.
“Getting dirty is my thing, so I like to come out to the field,” said Gonzalez. “The best part of my job is getting to work on people.”
In the future Gonzalez’s goal is to be become a registered nurse and become a certified nurse anesthetist.
“I was looking for what I wanted to do and now I’ve found it. I want to be in the medical field,” Gonzalez said.