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Wiser in Battle

U.S. Army General Ricardo Sanchez a military role model

By Esteban Blis
Published on LatinoLA: July 29, 2009


Wiser in Battle


"In the 232 years history of the US. Army, Hispanics Soldiers, beginning with General Bernardo De Galvez of the US Revolutionary War, have continuously distinguished themselves by their selflessness and passion for their service. I have seen soldiers from every part of the spectrum come into our great Army and blossom as competent soldiers, trusted friends and most importantly, as men and women of the utmost courage and integrity"

- MG (R) Alfred Valenzuela, author of "NO GREATER LOVE: Life and Times of Hispanic Soldiers"

My name is SGT Esteban Blis, US Army Reserve. I have been serving for over 10 years in the United States Army. For me, serving in the United States Army is more than wearing a uniform, getting a pay check, getting the most medals. For me, it is a passion to serve others, to answer to the call of duty without any hesitation, taking care of your soldiers like family, with-out expecting of personal benefit. I would like to take time to share with you a man many soldiers consider to be a Hispanic hero for what he did as a soldier and as a great human being, his name is LTG Ricardo S. Sanchez.

Ricardo S. Sanchez was born into a poor Mexican American family in Rio Grande City, Texas. During the Vietnam conflict (1969-73), Sanchez was in college. He spent one year at the University of Texas at Austin on an ROTC scholarship, eventually transferring to Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas, where he graduated in 1973 with a double major in math and history. Sanchez was named a Distinguished Military Graduate (DMG), meaning he was in the top 10% of all ROTC cadets in the nation. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Regular Army. He received promotions regularly and was stationed at posts in the United States, Korea, Panama and Germany.

In 1991, then Lieutenant Colonel Sanchez served as a battalion commander during Operation Desert Storm, successfully leading his unit of the 197th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized) to Basra without suffering any casualties. Shortly after the Gulf War, Sanchez was promoted to Colonel and given command of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division. Afterwards, he served on the staff of U.S. Southern Command, first as deputy chief of staff then as director of operations.
On July 10, 2001, by now a general, Sanchez became commander of V Corp' s 1st Armored Division. He held that position for nearly two years before assuming command of the entire corps on June 14, 2003. making LTG Ricardo S. Sanchez one of the youngest ever officers to reach the rank of LTG in the Armed Forces of the United States. Also in this date LTG Sanchez also became commander of coalition ground forces in the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

Sanchez held the top military position in Iraq during what was arguably one of the most critical periods of the war--the year after the fall of the Hussein regime, and the time the insurgency took root and began its counterattack. Highlights during his tenure as commander in Iraq include the killing of Uday and Qusay Hussein, and the capture of Saddam Hussein

LTG Sanchez became the first Hispanic ever commander of coalition forces in Iraq, and for over 33 years this hard working soldier served his country with passion and dignity all over the world and Commanded V Corps for 3 years, longer than any other commander.

Sanchez retired on 1 November 2006, culminating 33 years of Army service. Sanchez now lives in his home state of Texas

LTG Ricardo Sanchez, with his book "WISER IN BATTLE: A Soldier's Story" describes the chaos on the Iraqi battlefield caused by the Bush administration's misguided command of the military, as well as his own struggle to set the coalition on the path toward victory. Sanchez illuminates the fallout of the communication breakdown between the leadership on the front and the politicians in Washington, revealing fractious discussions he had with, among others, Ambassador Paul Bremer and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

In addition, Sanchez shares the story of his career. He tells of the journey from his poverty-stricken youth on the Texas banks of the Rio Grande to joining the Reserve Officers' Training Corps at sixteen and later serving in Kosovo, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and, ultimately, Iraq. At the time of his retirement, Sanchez was the highest-ranking Hispanic in the U.S. Army.

The first book written by a former on-site commander in Iraq, Wiser in Battle is essential reading for all who wish to understand the current war and the American military's role in the new century.

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