Estevan Sotorosado

Sgt. Maj. Estevan Sotorosado, training sergeant major for the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence in Fort Rucker, Alabama, gives his presentation during the Fort McCoy observance of Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 21 in McCoy’s Community Center.

Sgt. Maj. Estevan Sotorosado, guest speaker for Fort McCoy’s Hispanic Heritage Month observance Sept. 21, said he owes his current success to his upbringing and his heritage.

Sotorosado is the training sergeant major for the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence in Fort Rucker, Ala. He was born in New York City, but his parents moved him and his sisters to their home in Aguada, Puerto Rico, when he was young. He said growing up in Puerto Rico under the watchful eyes of his parents instilled the values in him that set him up for success in the Army.

“I grew up in a very tough neighborhood,” Sotorosado said. “My dad had a sixth-grade-level education; my mom has a third-grade-level education. ... When it was time for us to go to school, they demanded a lot of my two sisters and I to ensure that education was the No. 1 priority.”

Sotorosado said that when he was young, he didn’t appreciate the demands his parents made of him.

“I wanted to live my own way. I wanted to have my own identity,” he said.

After finishing school, he said, he began making bad choices, but his parents set him straight.

“My dad grabbed me and told me, ‘You think you own your life, but you don’t. Your life ... belongs to the people,’” he said.

When he decided to join the Army, his mother told him he had to stay focused. He asked her what she meant, and the definition she gave him differed from the one found in the dictionary.

Her answer turned the word focus into an acronym FOCUS: F for faith, O for obedient, C for committed, U for united, and S for strong.

Having faith means trusting the people, communities, and installations around you, Sotorosado said. “If you don’t have faith in your team, ... you’re not going to accomplish anything,” he said.

He said his parents stressed the importance of obedience while he was growing up, whether it was his elders, teachers, or the rules. That translated well into being obedient to his superiors in the military and to the laws of society.

“If you don’t have faith and you don’t have discipline, and you’re not obedient to others, I’m telling you that you are going to crash, and you will fail in life,” Sotorosado said.

After joining the Army, he said his mother told him, “You are now a man. You are serving a nation so you must remain committed to all values, to the country that gave you a chance to be successful.”

Being united means making sure your team gets along and works together, Sotorosado said, but it also means making sure your team can work with others on the same mission.

“We are part of a nation that comes together to work for one purpose,” he said. “That’s what my parents instilled in me: to have faith, to be obedient, to be committed to unite the team, so that I can be successful.”

Being focused and keeping his mother’s definition of the word in mind have helped him succeed, rise through the ranks, and be strong, Sotorosado said. He said staying focused, going back to basics, and following the Army values will help all soldiers ensure their personal success.

“Don’t allow your dreams—don’t allow your goals—to die because your eyes are focused on something else. Keep your eyes on your goals,” he said.

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Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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