RIO HONDO — Isis Cleopatra Gomez will follow in her father’s footsteps when she joins the Army.
“He told me it was one of the best decisions he made,” Gomez, 17, a senior at Rio Hondo High School, said of her father Santiago Cantu Borjas. “He told me it was a great way to go — fighting for your country and the people who lost their lives fighting for our country.”
So in ninth grade, she joined the high school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program.
“I thought it would be a great way to kick off my military career,” said Gomez, the daughter of Norma Garza Gomez of Rio Hondo.
The ROTC program helped mold her for her career, she said.
“I know what to expect. Everything I need to know, they have taught me — and I’m ready to go,” Gomez said. “You develop great leadership skills and discipline — learning to address people of authority, learning the rank system.”
At school, Gomez runs track and cross country — and she’s active in law enforcement and band.
But ROTC has become a big part of her life.
This year, she became commander of the program’s saber team.
“I’ve always had a passion for the saber,” Gomez said. “They’re dealt with precision. You learn how to march in formation.”
Now she helps mold a new crop of cadets.
“I was really excited,” Gomez said. “I have a whole new team of cadets to lead to perform to excellence. You teach them how to twist (the saber) with precision and safety.”
As a member of the color guard, she carries the United States and Texas flags.
“I feel honored to be able to carry the flag,” she said. “I feel pride.”
When she graduates in June, she’ll enter basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., where she’ll work as a vehicle mechanic.
After she graduates, she’ll be assigned to the 101st Airborne Division.
“I love my country,” Gomez said. “America is the land of free and the home of the brave. I want to keep the tradition.”