Fort Knox, KY –
For nearly a year Staff Sgt. Raul Guardado has worked as the Station Commander at the 3rd Recruiting Brigade’s Libertyville Recruiting Company in Waukegan, North Chicago. In that time, Guardado has held his own as a recruiter and ‘acting’ station commander, making his numbers, getting solid contacts and putting good candidates in uniform. He calls himself a decent recruiter. “I love the Army. I enjoy talking to people, sharing the Army story,” Guardado said. “I’m proud working to get future soldiers the job they want in the Army. In my opinion, recruiting is where the Army starts.”
When the time came to make the station commander position official, the Imperial, California, native didn’t hesitate; he is the kind of soldier who enjoys a challenge. To become station manager, he had to get his command’s approval to attend the Army’s Station Commander Course. Normally, that would entail a trip to Fort Knox for the course, but with Covid-19 restrictions, the course was only being offered online, turning an already difficult course into one that many would struggle to pass.
Passing the course was never the issue for Guardado. As a single father of two boys, he knew if he took the class, he had to do better than just pass - he had to excel - which is exactly what he did.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Staff Sgt. Guardado excelled in the Station Commander Course,” Company Commander Capt. James Kite said. “He told me before he started that his goal was to become the Distinguished Honor Graduate. I knew, immediately, if he put his mind to it, he could achieve that goal.”
Not only did Guardado earn the Distinguished Honor Graduate in a class full of 16 Soldiers, he finished it with a perfect 4.0 GPA, something that had never been accomplished online, and rarely at all. “This is the first time I’ve seen it,” Instructor Sgt. 1st Class Darcel Thomas said. “The content is challenging enough on its own, but online students faced some unique challenges because of the technology, working from home and sharing course time with responsibilities at home and work.”
The course demands an incredible amount of study time as well as time working with fellow students. Fortunately, Guardado possesses an incredibly positive attitude. He is truly a motivator. The former MLRS repairer thrives on getting the most from his team, something that was evident throughout the Station Commander Course.
“Staff Sgt. Guardado was consistently a team player,” Thomas said, “I made it clear that in order for everyone to be successful we had to over communicate and take care of one another. Although he had the highest GPA, he still assisted his fellow classmates to push through the course.”
Now that the demands of the course are behind him, Guardado continues to motivate. “It’s great to have NCO’s (noncommissioned officers) like Guardado,” Kite said. “His infectious positive attitude helps motivate everyone around him.”
As to the secret to his success, Guardado gives credit to his command, his fellow recruiters and his family. “This course re-opened my eyes about the Army,” he said. “How it takes a team to be successful, how important it is to meet mission goals, not just making the numbers but meeting the needs of the Army and, of course, the future soldier.”
In his 16 years in the Army, Guardado feels he has renewed purpose when he puts on his uniform. Every phone call to him has always been, and likely will be answered with “It’s a great day to be in the Army. Staff Sgt. Guardado speaking. How can I motivate you today?”