Captain James Yang graduated from Turlock High School. Corporal Guillermo M. Fuentes graduated from Denair High School. Yang decided to join the Army when he was a graduate student. Fuentes joined the Marine Corps right after high school, fulfilling a dream he had since childhood.
Although these men's lives took very different paths, they have two things in common. They were both recently recognized for their outstanding military service, and they both have very proud parents.
Guillermo Fuentes won NCO of the Year 2009 at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. His mother, Rosa Garcia, received a letter from Colonel Phillipe D. Rogers that explained that Fuentes won the award out of 1,700 qualifying marines.
“Everybody is very excited for him. I think this is very, very special,” Garcia said.
Rosa Garcia and her husband, John Garcia, were both proud when Fuentes decided to join the Marine Corps. John Garcia was in the Army, and he encouraged his stepson to join the military.
That feeling of excitement and pride for a member of the military is shared by James Yang's father, Seo Yang, M.D.
“I feel very proud of what he has accomplished,” Seo Yang said.
James Yang received the Bronze Star Medal in November for his service as a brigade psychologist during operation Iraqi Freedom. His year-long tour in Iraq ended in February, when he returned to the United States.
“Captain Yang's outstanding performance, expertise, and contributions were instrumental to the unit's overall success during combat operations,” reads the award, which was signed by Major General Daniel P. Bolger.
Yang said that it felt good that his entire unit was recognized for their work.
“Recognizing us as a team is definitely more rewarding than any individual recognition,” Yang said.
Rosa Garcia also appreciated the recognition that her son received from the Marine Corps. She kept the card her son's commanding officer sent, which commended his performance. She said that he has a lot of friends in Denair, and he serves as a positive role model for his younger friends and family members.
Both Yang and Fuentes grew up in the area, but neither of them has spent much time at home since joining the military. Fuentes is stationed at Camp Pendleton, and his mother said that he doesn't get many chances to visit. James Yang is now stationed in Hawaii with his wife and children.
Wherever their children are, military mothers and fathers like Seo Yang and the Garcias are celebrating the accomplishments of their family members in uniform.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.