Soldier to Hero

The Texas Story Project.

Straight as an arrow, both in body and mind. Steady and confident strides with a new edition of a cane by his side to help him along. Once-black hair now grey and white with a sharp looking beard to match. These are the most recognizable qualities that John Jara possesses upon first meeting him, a man who is eager to share his story with anyone who's willing to listen, carrying stories more entertaining than any book could wish to hold.

Jara parted with this story to be shared with you and, hopefully, you can see how Texas has been a home of fortitude to many.

Jara has held positions of public security and safety on many levels. Some of them include being a Fire Chief, Chief of Police, and an irreplaceable member of the United States military with his training beginning in Texas many years ago when he was in his mid-to-late teens. He shared, "When you get to your training you have what is called basic training, which is just how to handle firearms, taking orders, and being in the mindset of combat. And then from there, I went to advanced training as they called it. Advanced training is where you acquire the knowledge to perform work other than combat, other duties that they want you to learn."

During his time in training he contemplated what he would take on as his specialty in advanced training. But his interest was clear to him: intelligence and communications. Jara felt the call for this to be his specialty and he ran with it, not questioning himself and striving through the ten months of advanced training in this field before going overseas.

Being going overseas, Jara began to meet many people who also were training for the same work, and this is where he began to notice how different his training was and how much more efficient each cadet would become. By completing his training in Texas, he realized how effectual and self-sufficient he was just coming from the West as opposed to his peers that came from the eastern states. What he discovered in the trainees from the eastern states is that "their ability to function on a self-survival mode was not good at all, whereas people that came from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona all had very good skills in survival." Jara related this success in training due to growing up alongside parents and friends that would help you with the survival aspect, so all one had to do to succeed is to apply them to the combat portion.

"Texas is at the forefront of providing communications for just about everything," Jara shared. Communication was not only what Texas was great at, but also something crucial to having a capable government organization: communication between the commander, the artillery, and the combat personnel was all vital to performing any task. But something to know first is what that task actually is. Something that Jara noticed that was more advanced in the trainees from Texas was that they were so self-sufficient that they were able to understand what was being asked and how to complete said task. Jara saw that fellow cadets, like himself, were not used to getting pampered which was something that he saw was priceless to higher-ups.

Despite making it far from home, Jara made his way back to Texas in the end. After some serious thought of moving to Oklahoma to pursue his calling in intelligence and communications.He was offered a job in his line of work for a substantial payment of a hundred thousand dollar starting pay in 1968 with the possibility of additional stipends. This was not meant to be however because his wife, Aurora Jara, wanted to go back home.

Texas has been his home for years now and now he is retired, still making waves in his community, using his sense of humor and kind heart to bring smiles to anyone he runs into. Jara and his wife now spend their days looking back on all that they’ve done, selling antiques, and caring for their granddaughters that adore him. They share their stories with them as often as possible. Having lived a life as a soldier, he has retired to being a hero.

Sydney Jara Barrio is a Computer Science Major from St. Mary's University who hails from El Paso, TX. Her Mexican American family pushes her to reach for the horizon with her grandfather, John Jara, helping her along the way.

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