Raphael is a current resident of Forest Park. He was born March 6, 1980 and is originally from Chicago. Raphael has had a 19-year career in the U.S. Army and currently serves in the National Guard as a reservist. Although Raphael was offered two scholarships upon graduating from high school, he was not sure what he wanted to do in with his life, so he decided to volunteer for military service. He hoped the military would help clarify his passions and interests and allow him to see the world. Raphael chose to serve in the U.S. Army to follow his older brother and uncle. He was initially recruited by the U.S. Air Force for their basketball team, but he felt the Air Force would not offer him the level of discipline he sought and felt that Marines would offer him too much; therefore, the Army was his choice. In 1998, Fort Stewart, GA, Raphael joined the military as a cook and did not want anything to do with war. Despite his early sentiments, Raphael served as a specialist in two active combats, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Kuwait. The total time of his deployments was 18 months. When his tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom ended, Raphael returned home on September 10, 2001 only to wake up the next morning to the Twin Tower attack. After being home for six months, Raphael missed the military and rejoined as a legal clerk in 2002, but he was quickly sent to Iraq under Operation Enduring Freedom where he worked three separate jobs as a cook, as a logistics operator where he managed emergency medivac operations, and on convoys with armed defensive support. Raphael cherishes the lifelong friendships made in the military and values his military service as the best decision of his life. He is married to Patricia Salazar, a Marine veteran.
Our Neighbors, Our Hero Audio Story
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