Marine with Peruvian roots reunites with family after 15 years during New Horizons exercise
By Capt. Candace N. Park, New Horizons Public Affairs
/ Published June 22, 2012
LIMA, Peru -- The honking of horns and whizzing by of cars only added to his anxiety as he waited on the street corner for a moment 15 years in the making.
"I think I know what they look like, but they could walk right up to me and I might not know it's them," said Lance Cpl. Guillermo Muguerza from the 4th Civil Affairs Group.
His phone rings. "They're only two blocks away now, coming by taxi," he said.
With the slowing of every cab near the street corner, the Marine's heart seems to skip a beat. Finally a taxi stops and a man and a woman race out of the door and clash into Muguerza in a long overdue embrace. Tears begin to flow from eyes that have instantly recognized one another.
Muguerza has just reunited with his father and aunt on a busy street in Lima after leaving his native country nearly 15 years ago.
"It was a miracle to hear from him," said his father, Oswaldo Muguerza. "I'm so happy."
Muguerza is part of the 4th Civil Affairs Group deployed to Peru for New Horizons 2012, a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored humanitarian assistance and training exercise.
When the deployed commander heard his story, he gave Muguerza permission to visit with his family on a day off so they could be reunited.
"I called my dad last night and said, 'I'm in Peru and I'm coming to see you tomorrow!'" Muguerza said. "He couldn't believe it was me."
Military service is some sort of a Murgueza family tradition. All of the men in the family have served their country's military, in Peru or in the United States.
"I myself retired as a Peruvian Army first sergeant," Murgueza's father said, showing his retiree military ID."I am not surprised my son is in the military. It makes me proud that he is serving."
For Muguerza, this deployment has special meaning. He has the unique opportunity to serve both the U.S. and Peru.
The U.S. Southern Command-sponsored New Horizons 2012 exercise offers U.S. and Peruvian military medical personnel the opportunity to train and work together while providing free medical services and critical community infrastructure.
"This exercise is without a doubt a clear example of the level that relations between Peru and the United States have reached, " said Ambassador Mario Lopez, the Peruvian Ministry of Defense representative during ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the start of New Horizons medical activities June 19. "It is a tight relationship, marked by cooperation and the strategic link that unites us for the benefit of the population of Peruvian and the US."
In addition to providing medical readiness training exercises as part of New Horizons, two critical infrastructure projects are also underway.
Engineers from the 820th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron are working alongside Peruvian military engineers to construct a new town community center in Tambo de Mora, a town greatly impacted by an earthquake in 2007. The town was liquefied be the resulting tsunami and thousands of people were displaced, said Jose Pepe Girao of the Chincha municipal government.
"This project is what people here have been praying for," Girao said. "It will improve the lives of many who have been suffering and it will bring them together."
The multi-use town center will include a library, clinic, auditorium, playground and a central park area.
The other New Horizons construction project under way is an addition of an emergency room facility to the clinic in Independencia.
"Man will pass, but his works will remain," said Alonso Navarro Cabanillas, the Ica regional president. "These great works will improve the daily lives of many for years to come."