Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier and Agent

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Being the only child of a single mother, Sergio was raised by his maternal grandparents in a South Texas region better known as the Rio Grande Valley. This memoir details the upbringing of a poor migrant worker of Mexican descent having to pick crops for a living since the age of seven. As a way to break from the family cycle of picking crops and depending on government welfare programs, he joined the United States Army and served ten years active duty. He deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina shortly after the Bosnian War only to find and deal with the aftermath of the genocide that took place there and be caught in the middle of several attacks. His experiences in Bosnia ultimately led to experiencing signs and symptoms related to PTSD.

After completing ten years of military service, Sergio joined the US Border Patrol. Being of Mexican descent, having a family in South Texas, and in Mexico gave way to new issues of having to counter threats against his family and ill-willed opinions of him for arresting and deporting “his own kind.”

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Sergio A. Tinoco was born and raised in Rio Grande Valley, commonly known to them as RGV. As a child, he had gone through many struggles. Having to come up with a big decision to leave his family behind at such a young age, Sergio began to live a dangerous life in the battlefield with the US Army. Between the Army and the DHS, he has worked in government service for over twenty years. He earned a master’s degree in organizational management. His wife, also a military veteran, works for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Together, they strive to provide greater opportunities and aspirations to their kids.

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At age seven, I knew very little English and not nearly enough to interpret what was being said on the news. Yet, I was expected to interpret everything as though I were an English professor. So I did what any other kid my age and in my position would do in order to survive this ordeal, I would watch the television screen and come up with my own stories to tell my grandfather. The stories would of course depend entirely on the images on the screen. With the regular news, this tactic actually worked and kept me out of trouble.

I remember struggling to contain myself, but the National Anthem had taken over me, it had overpowered my entire being and I could do nothing about it. I thanked GOD and yet, I also asked for forgiveness. Forgiveness for not being able to save all the kids that night. Forgiveness for having to shoot back and taking the lives of others who had been conditioned to hate us for no reason other than not sharing the same faith. I begged GOD for forgiveness because I had cursed him so many times in my sleepless nights as I asked and asked for answers while I felt that I had not received any. Lastly, I cried more as I thanked Him for allowing me to come back home and be able to see my son.

Something unexpected took place when I first moved back to the city of Weslaco, Texas. I went to go visit my dad (grandfather). I wanted to spend some time with him and I was curious to know what he thought of my new job. My mother was supportive, but also a bit concerned. She was still living in Reynosa, Mexico at the time and she wasn’t too sure on how to address my new employment. Could she talk about it with her friends or was the topic completely off limits? What would her friends think of the fact that her only son’s new job was to catch and deport Mexicans who were living in the U.S. illegally? I had not considered what my family would think about my choice in career. Living so close to the border and still having family living in Mexico made things a bit strange. In general, everyone was happy that I was finally going back home. I had been away from the Rio Grande Valley for twelve years. They just had some mixed emotions about the job I now had. They were proud, but a bit hesitant to be “excited” about it.


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