Samantha Molina/Courier Student and Navy veteran Joseph Amador stands in front the veterans memorial wall on Thursday, March 17, 2016.
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Joseph Amador, a history major, served four years in the Navy as an Aviation Ordnanceman also known as “mag rats.” His job description involved building bombs and rockets, while also maintaining torpedoes, aerial mines and missiles. Spending most of his time on the USS Abraham Lincoln CVN 72 below the water line in the ship, he was unable to see the light of day for long periods of time.

“I worked with kind of ‘it all,’” Amador said. “From small arms to the 50 cal., M240, and the smallest bomb being around 500 pounds [to] probably the largest bomb being 2000 pounds.”

It was definitely a game changer for Amador, dealing with the military mindset and rules put him in different positions.

Overwhelming was how he put it, and the first day he stepped onto the ship wasn’t off to a great start. However, with focus and support he came out strong.

Amador definitely found it to be a learning experience that molded him into a better person with a better grasp on how to handle any condition he’s faced with.

“’It was the best of times and the worst of times’…but, at the same time I think I’ve seen some things that people will never see in their lifetime,” Amador said. “I learned what hard work really [is].”

Prior to Amador’s move into the Navy, this was something he’d always wanted to do. Growing up, he was a very patriotic kid who did whatever he could just to salute the flag – both with joining the Boy Scouts and the Sea Cadets in high school.

Being a part of the Sea Cadets also gave him the opportunity to work on a naval base with sailors almost every summer. Right out of high school he decided to enlist in the navy.

“I got a good sense of the military lifestyle and that’s what pushed me to go into the military,” Amador said.

And he has done just that.

After his four years were done, Amador had to transition back into the civilian world, which wasn’t easy. Now at PCC for two years, when he first started he was a bit shy and didn’t take much interest in attending the Veterans Resource Center or club meetings.

Things slowly turned around when he decided to have his lunch at the Veterans Club meetings. He still didn’t say much but it was a start, and as other vets started to notice him, Amador became more open and involved with the club.

For someone who may look big and intimidating, he is actually very amiable.

He speaks with such compassion about others as if he’s known them for so long. Never complaining about what he’s done or gone through, he uses it as a learning experience.

Now he serves as a communications officer for the club and more. He reaches out to other vets and clubs on campus, participates in all the events and makes sure the Veterans Club is being heard.

It was an easy decision to make for Club President Edwin Lopez. From the moment the topic came up, Lopez knew it was going to be Amador with no doubt.

“We need someone with a voice like his,” Lopez said. “He likes to talk with people. Very charismatic and a hard charger as well.”

Amador is well known and loved by his fellow vets. He has a spark that brings out dedication and passion. Veterans’ Club treasurer and Amador’s good friend Mark Castanon is glad that Amador was the first choice for veteran of the month.

“He is a great leader…he has helped the club with volunteer work, fundraisers and won our shirt and logo design contest,” Castanon said. “He is a great asset for us veterans and the school as a whole.”

Amador was involved in the thought process of having a veteran of the month once again. He suggested a few ideas in the beginning but never thought he would be chosen.

“I was excited about it and grateful that they chose me,” Amador said.

Amador now wants to continue his education in history and hopes to transfer to Texas State University to study marine archaeology, because he can’t stay away from the water.

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