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Bell Gardens Native Climbs Army Ranks

A Bell Gardens High School 1990 graduate has been promoted to Master Sergeant, a rank near the top of Army’s command structure.

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Jose Jimenez grew up on Fostoria Street in Bell Gardens after his family immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was just five-years-old. His parents, Alfonso and Natalie Jimenez, still reside in the city, though he is stationed at Fort Bliss located near El Paso, Texas.

Bell Gardens High School graduate Jose Jimenez is promoted to master sergeant.


Growing up he would listen to the stories told by members of his family about being in the Mexican Army, and they inspired him to become a soldier, he told EGP.

Jimenez enlisted as an armor crewman and was sent to Germany shortly after receiving his high school diploma. During his nearly 21 years in the Army, he has been assigned to Fort Lewis, Wash. and Fort Hood, Texas, and his overseas service includes three deployments to Korea and Iraq in 2005, 2006 and 2009.

He currently serves as the G3 Operations Non-Commissioned Officer with the Brigade Modernization Command. The brigade’s commander, Brig. Gen. Randal A. Dragon, performed the promotion ceremony, pinning on his new rank on Aug. 31.

His wife Maria V. Ortiz, also from Bell Gardens, participated in the ceremony. The couple has four children: Silvia, 21, who is married; Ricardo, 20, who attends college; Leonor, 12; and Natalie, 10.

Reaching the rank of master sergeant is a big achievement, according to Annie Gammell, Public Affairs Officer of the Army’s Brigade Modernization Command.

“The Army’s enlisted rank structure has 9 steps, and master sergeant is at step 8,” Gammell said. “Generally, the responsibilities of a master sergeant are to serve as the principal non-commissioned officer at the battalion level or higher, expected to dispatch leadership and other duties with professionalism.”

Bell Gardens Mayor Jennifer Rodriguez told EGP she is extremely proud of Jimenez and the honor he has brought to his family and to Bell Gardens.

“We have many young men and women on active duty from Bell Gardens and a simple thank you seems so inadequate when these special individuals and their families unselfishly sacrifice so much for the protection of our great country,” Rodriguez said in a written statement.

“Liberty is a precious gift whose benefits we all enjoy every day, but too often we give little thought to the price paid for it. It is not in our nature to seek out wars and conflicts. But whenever they have come, when adversaries have left us no alternative, it is individuals like Jose Jimenez who answered the call to duty and who have stood ready to take the risks and pay the ultimate price. For that, I say thank you,” Rodriguez said.

Jimenez didn’t intend to stay in the Army so long, but it grew into a career, he said. Looking back at the past 20-plus years, Jimenez told EGP he is pleased to be “giving back to the country that has given a lot to me. It has given us a lot of opportunities,” he said.

Nonetheless, he hopes to retire in another five years, finish his education in Business Administration, and eventually start his own business.