Cadet follows in father’s footsteps

RIO HONDO — Javier Guzman has been part of his school’s Air Force JROTC longer than most cadets.

Even before entering Rio Hondo High School, the cadet colonel has been helping his father, retired Master Sgt. Joe Guzman, run the school’s program.

“My dad made me the person I am,” said Guzman, 17, a senior. “I want to make him proud.”

Since eighth grade, the school’s ROTC program has helped forge his character.

A year later, he became a cadet.

“I love it,” Guzman said.

Now, he’s getting ready to launch a military career.

“I just want to follow in his footsteps,” said Guzman, whose father served 22 years in the Army and Air Force.

During his high school years, football, powerlifting, track and golf have helped round him out as a student.

But ROTC has helped groom him for his future.

“It opens up a lot of opportunities for scholarships and a lot of chances to meet people, make connections and do new things,” he said.

After his freshman year, Schreiner University’s summer camp helped hone his skills.

“That’s one of my favorite parts,” he said. “We learned leadership and discipline. We learned ways to lead the corps, how to address situations and solve problems — thinking outside the box.”

During his sophomore year, he took to the skies as part of ROTC’s flight training program.

From Port Mansfield to South Padre Island, Guzman helped fly an airplane.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “It was awesome — breathtaking.”

This year, Guzman became the program’s group commander.

“You take on problems and find solutions — delegating, leading people, rewarding cadets,” he said.

Now, he’s getting ready to take one of the biggest steps of his life.

After he graduates, he plans to join the Navy.

“I want to travel the world and see new things and meet new people,” he said.