Mission High School

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Veterans Day

The life of a Veteran is the life of a hero. The nation is protected by four branches of the military: the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines. Each one serves its purpose in defending the country. While many join for this very purpose, Colonel Frank Fuentes stands out from the rest right in our school.
Fuentes is the JROTC instructor at Mission High School and has been part of the program since 2013. He is also a veteran who served in the Army as an officer for 28 and a half years. As the highest ranked veteran at MHS, his accomplishments have led him towards success.
“I come from a military family, and my dad was a sergeant major,” Fuentes said. “Joining the military was my calling.”
The JROTC program is standing strong after facing a large obstacle. There had been prior fear of losing the eagle battalion, and students made petitions to receive help and keep the program open. After getting over 900 signatures and help from Senator Henry Cuellar, JROTC was saved and allowed to remain in MHS with new instructors.
“I came in after the students had fought for their program. They were on a probation period until April of this year,” Fuentes said.
Fuentes showed a lot of promise when applying for the job; he’s earned two Master’s degrees and has served many military positions—among those which his extremely long resume held—senior logistics, deputy director, brigade executive officer, battalion commander, etc. Working his way up to Colonel and achieving awards such as the Legion of Merit has taken years of dedication and hard work. That level of achievement has made him a great addition to MHS, adding a sense of sophistication and success.
“In 2012-2013, JROTC won one competition trophy,” Fuentes said. “Last year we were able to win eleven.”
That extraordinary knack for completely reversing probation not only demonstrated hard work, it demonstrated that there are various changes taking place in MHS. Joining the military in August of 1974, Fuentes began as an enlisted man. Throughout the span of his military career, Fuentes traveled to various countries—including Egypt and Israel—and he managed to even visit the wide, completely blue ocean in the Red Sea.
When asked about his experiences in the visiting of Israel, Fuentes’s expression became serious, and his eyes took on a somber tone.
“You never know what’s gonna happen,” he explained. “You always just tense because you don’t know who’s going to jump at you.”
One of Fuentes’s colleagues once described to him how his life had flashed in front of his eyes when a suicide bomber jumped on top of the military bus and pulled the latch on the bomb. Luckily, the bomb was faulty, and nobody was injured.
However, although Veterans are acknowledged, the reality that some of them are misunderstood and underappreciated holds a completely sangfroid standing in American life.
“I don’t care about being disrespected when I’m alive,” Fuentes explained. “But I believe that families should be allowed to grieve in times of mourning.”
However, all the scrutiny’s and ideals that come with the country have to be accepted.
“War is a bad thing,” Fuentes nodded.
Even through his retirement and then soon after joining JROTC, Fuentes has held a certain ideal throughout the passing years.
“If I can change one person’s life in high school…I think I’ve done a great job then.”
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