FORWARD OPERATING BASE SWEENEY, Afghanistan - The sun-baked gravel on the landing zone of Forward Operating Base Sweeney appeared as lava stones in a sauna. The shaded connex gave a deceptive invitation of a more comfortable climate to work in.
Sgt. Fabricio Granados, an Oakland, Calif., native who serves in power equipment and generator repair for Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, fixes a generator while simultaneously mentoring other Soldiers on what the problem is and how to fix it in the future on Forward Operating Base Sweeney, Afghanistan, June 19, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)
Entering the shade, however, the invitation proved to be nothing but a mirage. Drenched in sweat, Sgt. Fabricio Granados, an Oakland, Calif., native ignores the discomfort of the heat to count and distribute water to the thirsty, putting self-interest aside to serve a higher cause.
Granados serves in power equipment and generator repair for Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. His altruistic character and life experience has molded him into a versatile noncommissioned officer.
“He's an awesome NCO, and he's a quiet professional,” said Granado's supervisor, 1st Sgt. Rebecca Schlegelmilch, a Munster, Indiana, native who serves as first sergeant for the FSC, 2nd Battalion, 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division. “He has such a broad spectrum of knowledge because of his experience throughout life. He can do anything, and he does so much more than fix generators.”
Aside from being a generator mechanic, Granados is the noncommissioned officer in charge of nine Soldiers who support their battalion with a variety of skill sets, all of which he is competent in.
“Right now I am the NCOIC of the communications and armament shop,” Granados said, “which includes nine Soldiers: four armament personnel that work on weapons, one that works on NVG's [night vision goggles], another who works on radios, and I have a welder, an AC mechanic, and a generator mechanic.”
All of the skills Granados has accrued over the years he puts to use in support of a cause that he feels is bigger than himself.
“Whatever we're called to do, it's in support of that company or battalion we're attached to,” Granados said. “I know a little about everything, and I feel that's why they're always calling us to go on missions. They're constantly drawing on our knowledge and expertise to complete the mission.”
Another facet of Granados' job is to assist CH-47 Chinook helicopter pilots attach and detach sling loads that carry essential supplies to Soldiers and other service members in remote areas of southern Afghanistan.
“It's just another part of my job,” Granados said. “We get word from the support element back at base that food, water, fuel, or whatever they need is coming, and then we make sure we're ready to detach the load that they're bringing or attach a load that they need to lift out.”
Granadosm, currently on his second deployment, has refined his skills over the years doing his job in the Army.
“My first deployment was with the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment in Iraq, and I got a lot of really good hands-on experience there,” Granados said. “I really love my job with the Army. It's been very good to me since I first joined eight years ago, so I'm just trying to be good to it.”
Granados is a very optimistic and progressive leader who leads his Soldiers by example, said Staff Sgt. Matthew Gallagher, a native of Detroit, Mich., who serves as section sergeant for FSC, 2nd Battalion, 504th PIR.
“It's just something that's part of him. Whatever company he's attached to, he makes it better. He's a leader that the Army is going to need in the future; he's a real go-getter.”
Granados has been shown throughout his military career a variety of leadership styles. One leader he had early on in his military career that set a foundation upon which he has built his leadership skills sticks out in his mind.
“Sgt. 1st Class Dexter Trotter was always there for me, and wherever he was, he was always doing the right thing,” Granados said. “I never saw him get into any kind of trouble, he was always fair and impartial when correcting Soldiers, and he was always there to listen as a buddy and a peer. I always thought to myself, ‘That's how I want to be.'”
Granados claims that his eagerness to serve stems from his youth, where he would often help his father out of necessity. Granados and his Family are an example of gaining the American dream by coming to the states from Central America with an ideal for a better life.
“My family emigrated from El Salvador to the U.S. on a work visa when I was three years old, and my dad was very eager to succeed in his new country,” Granados said. “I have six brothers, and I'm the oldest, so I had to grow up fast. When I was a teenager, my dad was working at a hotel in San Francisco, and in order to support the family he would have side jobs on the weekends, so naturally I was his foreman.”
Not only did Granados' father teach him to work, perhaps more importantly he taught him to value thoroughness and ownership of his work.
“My dad would always say, ‘If you're going to do something do it right the first time.'”
Granados' favorite part of his job is mentoring young Soldiers in the same way he was mentored by his father and beloved noncommissioned officers.
“I love to show my Soldiers that the military is good and I try to instill in them a good work ethic, because all in all, my squad is a reflection of me.”
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston
Provided through DVIDS
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