Bronze Star given to man who sees family members as his role models
David Muniz had military role models. But they weren’t Patton, MacArthur or Schwarzkopf.
They were Muniz, Muniz and Borrego.
Going on to play his part in the military, he said, was simply “the right thing to do.”
A sergeant in New Mexico Army National Guard, Muniz recently was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan from December 2017 through August 2018.
Muniz was an electronic warfare operator and standardization instructor, meaning he was responsible for managing the goings-on in the back of an Army C12 aircraft. Though he said the specifics of his job are secret, his role dealt with “electronic attacks on communications.”
His greatest influence, he said, was his grandfather, Modesto Borrego who served in an anti-aircraft unit in World War II. Borrego went on to earn a Silver Star — one of the highest military awards, granted for gallantry in action — 70 years after returning from the service.
“I was in combat, but not anything near what my grandfather had seen,” said Muniz. “They were shooting down planes and being shot at. He had people die right next to him.”
Muniz said his uncles Sam and Lee Muniz, both Vietnam War veterans, also were inspirations, as well as his father David Muniz, who served in the Army.
In 1996, Muniz joined the Army and served on active duty for six years. With an interest in the medical field, however, he joined the National Guard in 2003 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
His first deployment overseas was in 2007 to Afghanistan, when he served as a medic.
While most recently based in Bagram, Afghanistan, Muniz said he flew about 500 combat hours in support of Army special operations.
“We tried to work as much as we could, because we were giving support to the guys on the ground who were being shot at,” he said.
Muniz, 40, was one of three New Mexico soldiers who recently received the Bronze Star for meritorious service. The others were Chief Warrant Officers Brian Philipbar of Rio Rancho and Jose Moreno of Roswell.The three were all part of Detachment 6, Alpha Company of the 245th Aviation Regiment.
The Bronze Star is awarded to service members in combat zones, where danger is imminent. It is earned for acts of merit or acts of valor.
A Bronze Star with “V” represents valor and is considered among the highest awards for military combat bravery against an enemy force. The Bronze Star given for meritorious service can be granted for non-combat actions and is considered for noteworthy, heroic accomplishments.
Maj. Rudy Salcido — the task force commander who recommended Muniz for the award, and who was also honored with an Air Medal for his own achievements — said he was proud of the members of his team.
“You’re put in these conditions and you’re learning a new job, and now you’re in a combat theater,” said Salcido, adding that these situations made the soldiers “that much more impressive.”
Muniz, who attended Robertson High School in Las Vegas, N.M., , said his job in Afghanistan not only demanded mental and physical strength, but required a patient learning curve. When the guardsmen arrived in the Middle East, they had minimal flying experience, Salcido said. And for Muniz, whose last deployment in 2007 was serving as a medic, high-level joint operations were new territory.
“We were always going into the unknown,” said Salcido.
For Muniz, the medal was “a great honor, but it’s just an award,” he said. “You don’t go to combat to get awards. You go to combat to serve your country.”
The greatest part of the designation, he explained, was having his children present for the recent ceremony.
Muniz said he was deeply affected after watching his grandfather receive a Silver Star while in his 90s, and hopes his accomplishments will similarly inspire his three kids.
“I want them to learn anything is possible,” he said, adding his 14-year-old daughter has talked about the possibility of one day receiving an appointment to the Air Force Academy. “If it inspires them to do anything — maybe even join the military — then that would be good. … If it influences them at all, then it’s worth it.”