Hector Morales has seen a lot in his 81 years.
From the tropical shores of Puerto Rico, the rugged terrain of Korea, to the jungles of Vietnam, and the more peaceful Army posts in the U.S., Morales is set to retire for the second time — after more than 60 years of service.
But Morales, who works in the U.S. Army Reserve Command G-1 Directorate, doesn’t see himself as anything special after serving for so long.
“This is the greatest country in the world,” Morales said. “It’s an honor to serve.”
Born March 6, 1931 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Morales was the eldest of six children. While working as a stenographer in a sugar processing plant, he received his draft notice Nov. 20, 1951.
After completing basic training, he was shipped off to Korea where he said he was in for quite a shock.
“It was awful,” he said. “We were all draftees. I was scared, you know. I was only 20 years of age and away from home for the first time.”
Morales said that while he went out on combat patrols to engage the enemy, sometimes the war found him in the comfort of his base camp.
“We had incoming rounds falling on us when we were in the chow line,” he said.
Morales didn’t spend too much time away from serving the government. After a couple of years of selling insurance, he said he decided to join the ranks of civil service.
Much like his time in uniform, his civil service career also gave him the opportunity to travel to many stateside posts before landing at USARC .
Once the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure initiative closed Fort McPherson, Ga., Morales left his wife to tend to their home in Georgia as he transitioned to Fort Bragg.
Morales said his wife of 57 years, Felicita, is eagerly awaiting his return to Georgia and will greet him with a “long honey-do list — over 60 years long,” he said with a laugh.
But through it all, Morales said serving his country is what has made him stay this long.
“I liked the Army and I liked to serve,” he said. “Wherever they sent me, that is where I went. Military service has been good to me. If I had to do it over, I would.”