He was Marine of the Year in 2011; but back in 2007, Carlos Torres was just another kid looking for a path to a better life. After high school, his hometown held no future for him. Torres’ goal was to get out of the area—and all its influences. On August 19 he found himself at the Redondo Beach Marine recruitment center, hoping to do just that.
Carlos Torres of Inglewood, CA signed on as an infantryman and, almost immediately, found he had an affinity for the service. He’d found just the change—and the challenge, he was seeking.
“It was rough, but it was fun,” says Torres of those first months in boot camp.
After training, and a two-month stint in Eastern Europe on a peacekeeping mission, Torres shipped out for Afghanistan, where he was attached to Company C, 1st Tank Battalion. He served four years, and re-enlisted in Afghanistan in 2011.
The world changed for Torres’ on July 3rd. His squad was patrolling a familiar compound when he tripped a buried improvised explosive device, or IED, the crude fertilizer-based bombs that according to USA Today, caused 90% of US casualties in Afghanistan that year.
Carlos remembers the flash, the explosion, and then looking down to find both legs were gone. The last thing he recalls is a doctor saying he was going to put him out. Torres woke up three days later in a hospital in Germany.
This Corporal’s unflagging optimism in the face of great adversity, along with his dedication to the service, earned him the designation of Marine of the Year on March 16, 2011.
Today Torres is outfitted with prosthetic legs, and his arm is fused at the elbow. He attributes staying active as his means to recovery. Today, Torres is an avid mono-skier, has competed in three hand-cycling marathons, and plays ball with the Wolf Pack wheelchair basketball team.
“I’m ready for the next chapter,” says Torres—in his typical fashion. A man of few words, but strong spirit, Carlos Torres serves as inspiration to us all.
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