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San Antonio sailor uses music to strengthen Navy, Marine bonds

By Cpl. Paul D. Zellner II | | March 17, 2012

While serving alongside Marines and sailors for the past 33 years at home and abroad, religious program specialists have taken on a unique task within the U.S. Navy.

Girien R. Salazar, a religious programs specialist 3rd class, currently serving with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Black Sea Rotational Force has taken that unique task and made it his own.

“He’s always coming up with ideas to engage the Marines and get them involved,” said Lt. Paul A. Evans, chaplain for BSRF. “His passion to serve and initiative make him stand out and be respected by all the Marines.”

Salazar, 27, always knew he wanted to serve in the military and in the summer of 2010 he made a decision that would change his life forever. He joined the U.S. Navy.

The decision to join and what job to take was easy, he says. It was just a matter of doing it. I spoke with family and friends but my final decision came after reading the book Wild at Heart.

“The book gave me that extra push I needed,” said Salazar. “It really helped me make the decision to do what I want to do while I can still do it.”

Salazar is also in the process of taking his military service to another level by earning his Fleet Marine Force pin. The pin is designed for sailors in forward-deployable Marine units who wish to represent their devotion to the Marine Corps by learning and accomplishing the same annual training Marines take part in. They must pass multiple tests including Marine Corps history, tactics, rifle range and physical fitness test.

“He is committed to everything he does,” said Evans. “He picks up quickly on things and just runs with it. We haven’t even been here a week and he’s already speaking a little Romanian.” His commitment doesn’t stop at the military level.

The San Antonio native can often be seen carrying a guitar wherever he goes. When he plays a crowd follows, whether it’s on a bus, C-130 or just in his room.

“I play a few other instruments but I just couldn’t fit a bass, drums, piano and ukulele in my bag too,” Salazar said jokingly. Salazar uses his vast musical background to bring Marines and sailors together in song. He also took it upon himself to post signs offering free guitar lessons to anyone who would like to learn a new skill.

“I have a strong passion to teach and music has allowed me to have many opportunities I would have never had before,” said Salazar. “It opens up doors and connections with others of all walks of life because you share a common bond through music.”

“No matter what it is you can always teach somebody something because there is always someone who wants to learn,” he said. Salazar has a Bachelor’s of Science in Pastoral Ministry and is currently working on his Master’s in Practical Theology at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, TX.

“I want to be a leader in my community to help young people who need guidance and be a spiritual leader for those going through troublesome times,” said Salazar. “Eventually my goal is to be a pastor of a church.”

For now though, Salazar will continue being a leader clothed in a camoflauge garb with just as strong of a meaning as he serves his country and helps take care of Marines and sailors at home and abroad.