From fleet to field, Sergio Almeida, 4th Regiment, Advanced Camp, made the shift from enlisted Navy Sailor to Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Cadet. 

“I chose to enlist the first time around for a sense of that typical, wanting to find yourself, wanting independence, wanting to be my own person,” said Almeida. 

After being the first member of his family to join the military, Almeida trained for a year in San Diego before being stationed in Norfolk, Virginia on the USS Truxton in 2012. 

“I got to really learn what the military was,” he said. 

During his six years in the Navy, as a sonar technician, he was deployed twice to the Fifth Fleet, in the Middle East. His first deployment took him through the Black Sea and down to the Persian Gulf, escorting ships across the Suez Canal. During his second deployment the ship traveled along the Bab al-Mandab Strait, between Djibouti and Yemen.

Once his enlistment was over he decided to travel around Europe without the constraints that applied when traveling with the military. He made his way through Europe starting in Portugal, then going down to Morocco, and making his way to Slovenia and Italy, where he said he gained perspective and cultural understanding.

Though his time in Europe taught him a lot, it also emptied his savings which brought him to Minnesota where he lived with his old shipmate, Derrick Smith. There, he enrolled in the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a major in Urban Studies. 

Originally, when he finished his enlistment with the Navy, Almeida thought he would never return to the military, but after spending all of his savings on his time in Europe and having trouble getting a job, he found his way to the Army ROTC program at his school. 

When he began the process, he planned to re-enlist as part of the naval reserves with his previous rank, Petty Officer 2nd Class, but he decided he no longer wanted to be enlisted. 

“I had enough of those headaches for a while,” he said. 

After exploring multiple possibilities with the Navy, and finding out he was past the age limit, he shifted paths to the Army. He said a recruiter at the University of Minnesota told him that he would not be the only Cadet of his age range, which helped. 

“It kind of felt good to me, that I wouldn’t be an anomaly,” said Almeida, “I’d be kind of in a melting pot you know, people from all walks of life.”

Once Almeida officially joined the ROTC program at the University of Minnesota it took him to Cadet Summer Training where he has built a bond with his fellow Cadets. 

“There’s nothing like it,” he said. “We’re out here in the field where we’re sleeping in these very condensed areas, we are going through and embracing the suck together. It really brings you together with other people and regardless of age, race, sex, it’s just a very, very good bonding experience”. 

About the Author: Amy Turner