Dreams of saving lives

High school senior aims to join rescue team

RIO HONDO — Cadet Capt. Christopher J. Garza dreams of saving lives.

Soon, he’s joining the U.S. Air Force, where he plans to become part of a para-rescue unit.

“I’ll be the first in my family to go to the military,” Garza, an 18-year-old senior at Rio Hondo High School, said.

“It’s a good path to take for me,” Garza, the son of Jaime and Nereyda Garza of Rio Hondo, said. “I feel very proud of myself. It’s a big commitment to go into the military.”

As a little boy, he dreamed of becoming a nurse.

“I really like helping people out,” he said. “I care about people. I don’t like to see people injured or hurt.”

Since 10th grade, he’s been planning to join the Air Force.

“I felt like the military was my path,” he said. “It’s not really the same as civilian life. In civilian life, you’re an individual. In the military, you have to work together as a team.”

In his senior year, he joined the high school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program.

“I felt like it could give me a glimpse of how it would be in the Air Force,” he said.

In the program’s flight school, he learned to fly a plane.

“It was the first time I flew a plane and the first time I was in a plane,” he said. “I’m afraid of heights so I thought this would help me overcome my fear. When we got 3,000 feet high, it gave me a whole new perspective on life. I’d never seen the ground from up there. It’s a beautiful sight. It’s breathtaking.”

After he graduates here, he’ll take his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Then, he plans to study at a technical school to join a fire protection unit or Security Forces.

“I feel really proud of myself to take the commitment,” he said. “It’s really not for everybody. It’s being able to say you serve your country. A lot of people have put their lives down for us.”

Later, he plans to go on to college to become a registered nurse to serve as part of a para-rescue unit.

“It’s part of Special Forces — they put their lives before other people,” he said. “My role in life is to help others. I want to save other people’s lives.”