Military service runs in Hector Paz’ family, but it wasn’t on his mind in high school. His grandfather and father served in the Navy and Army, respectively. Paz briefly attended Sonoma State, and Allan Hancock College, after graduating from Righetti High School in 1994. But he mainly floated around. Tired of school and needing a way to earn money to take care of his new girlfriend and her child, Paz went to the Navy recruiter’s office and joined the delayed entry program. After Basic Training but before reporting to the USS Caron, he got married. Two days before his leave ended, Paz was ordered to report immediately to the ship for a four-plus month deployment to the Mediterranean. The news was jarring, he said.

“My wife was super pissed,” Paz said. “It was definitely welcome to the Navy life.”