Queens, NY native happy to serve in Iraq

19 Sep 2005 | Cpl. Ken Melton

With all of the military vehicle convoys traveling over Iraq’s roads, carrying troops and equipment, the drivers and mechanics aren’t the only ones keeping the motor transportation operation going – someone has to keep their fuel tanks full. Lance Cpl. Milton A. Gamez knows his job as a bulk fuel specialist with 7th Engineer Support Battalion attached to 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, is essential to completing the ongoing mission in Iraq. And it’s not as simple as one might think. He maintains up to 40,000 gallons of fuel at the fuel farm, must be able to distinguish between all fuel types, maintain all equipment and check fuel for contaminates. Even though he knows his job often goes unnoticed, he is still proud to help Marines complete their mission. “Without fuel, nothing runs,” the Queens, N.Y. native said. “I’m just happy to do my part to help out my country and Marine Corps because they’ve both helped me out a lot.” Gamez grew up on a coffee plantation in the civil war-torn area of El Salvador. His father left for the United States when Gamez was eight and he wasn’t able to see him again until he was 12. “My father had been saving money to move me and the rest of my family out of El Salvador since I was born,” Gamez remembered. “By the time I was 12 he was able to get me out of the country before I became involved in the war that was going on.” Gamez traveled for a month, sometimes walking or hitching rides, until he reached Los Angeles. When he arrived, he was able to stay with some relatives until he could fly to his family in New York. He attended Flushing High School and graduated in 1994 as one of the school’s stars of their championship soccer team. After graduation, he worked and attended college part-time until he was able to join the military in 2003. “I always wanted to join the military, but when I tried, I couldn’t because of my illegal status as a citizen,” the 28-year-old said. “It really hit home after the 9/11 tragedy occurred, and people I knew were harmed. “They [the terrorists] tried to come here and harm a country that has done nothing but help me. So, I worked until I was able to join the Marine Corps in 2003.” Gamez has enjoyed his short time in the Marine Corps and his only regret is not joining earlier. “I love the brotherhood in my Marine Corps and what we bring to the world,” Gamez said. “We go to other peoples’ country and try to bring peace and spread democracy. It’s a wonderful thing.” As the operations in Iraq continue, Gamez knows that he is able to help the people achieve a dream in their lives like he had when he was a child. “My parents wanted me to grow up in a country that didn’t have wars going on and a chance for me to have a good life,” Gamez said. “That’s what I am doing with my Marine Corps brothers. I’m happy to help in my own little way.”