Questa’s Colonel Louis Herrera describes his military career
Standing in front of the 93rd Troop Brigade of the New Mexico National Guard and flanked by the 93d Troop Command, Questa, New Mexico’s Colonel Louis Herrera said goodbye to his brigade and his military career.
“For any military officer and especially for me, command is the most sublime duty a military officer can be assigned,” he said to the assembled brigade. “For an officer, commando of a brigade-size unit is the most satisfying level of command one can be assigned.”
To reach that prominent level, Herrera had to work hard. Very hard. A native of Questa, Herrera began his military journey in the Army Corps of Engineers in 1984 which saw him serve active duty across the globe from Europe to Central and South America.
According to the biography he provided La Voz, Herrera served in south Panama in the 536th Combat Heavy Engineer Battalion. It was there that he worked with Army diving teams, well drilling, horizontal and vertical construction and the integration of the local national force into the operation. As U.S. relations with Panamanian President General Noriega worsened, Herrera was selected to reactivate the 59th Combat Engineer Company to support the 193rd Infantry Brigade in Operation Just Cause.
Following that assignment and after humanitarian missions to Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Costa Rica, Herrera found himself back stateside in Indiana where he earned his Master’s degree from Purdue University.
With knowledge of Latin America, Herrera’s next assignment placed him back in South America this time as a Foreign Area Officer with duties instructing at the Venezuelan Military Engineer School and as director of instructional development. It was during this time that Herrera said he began to earn a true understanding of leadership.
“It was President Theodore Roosevelt who best summed up leadership when he said, ‘The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it,’” Herrera cited in his retirement speech. “That has been my philosophy throughout my time leading soldiers.”
“As much as others want to believe that leadership is telling people what to do, and there is time for giving orders, it’s just as much about finding the right people and stepping back and letting them perform.”
After culminating his 13 years of active duty, Colonel Herrera put his knowledge and expertise of engineering and Latin America to use - leaving the military and joining Nextel International as Vice President of Engineering and Operations for Latin America. He was directly responsible for managing and building the wireless networks in Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Mexico. He advanced even further in 2002, opening his own company to engineer and fabricate high power transmission and telecommunications towers. In 2016 he sold that company having entered a joint venture with his cousin, Mike Gaillour, to operate Indian Motorcycle of Albuquerque in 2015.
Herrera takes pride in his current venture where he claims to do things the “New Mexico Way.” It is the same pride he takes in his soldiers who, in his words, make regular sacrifices without receiving more than a blip on the mass media’s radar.
“It seems unfair in life that the papers and TV stories spend tons of ink and hours of time praising and extolling the exploits of stars and athletes and politicians, but so often, the soldier’s selfless dedication to duty, is left to the footnotes of history,” he said. “[Soon] throughout the United States we will gather not as republicans, nor democrats, nor independents, but as Americans, and in spite of the many issues that separate Americans, we are united as a nation, a community to honor our fallen service members, those that have served and those that are serving.”
For Herrera the sentiment of “those that have served and those serving” hits even closer to home as his grandfather (WWI), father (Korean War), brother (Vietnam), wife (Air Force) and son (Afghanistan) are all veterans.
“As you see our flag flying overhead,” Herrera said, “please let it serve as a solemn reminder of the cost of freedom.”