HARLINGEN, Texas –
Over the past two years, Lt. Col. Beatriz Florez has traveled over 2,300 miles from the Pacific Northwest to attend battle assemblies in Texas' Rio Grande Valley. Every month and for two weeks during the summer, she embarked on this journey to seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to command the battalion where her career began.
The 319th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB) is a combat service support battalion that provides maintenance, transportation, and supply functions to brigade combat teams. The 319th CSSB is located in Harlingen, Texas. Harlingen is a city in the central region of the Texas Rio Grande Valley, about 30 miles from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
Harlingen, McAllen, Edinburg, Brownsville, and a few other cities make up the Rio Grande Valley. For those who have visited before, it's simply known as "the valley." For those who call it home, it's a special place. This community is where Lt. Col. Florez enlisted in the Army Reserve, attended college, and where many of her family and friends still reside today.
When asked about her decision to command the 319th CSSB, Florez stated it was about more than just going home again. "I chose to command this battalion because I think representation is important. I was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, and I wanted young Soldiers to see someone from their community who shared some of their struggles come back home," said Florez.
“The opportunities in the Army Reserve are great. There are so many possibilities and things that you can accomplish. For me, it all started right here, in the valley.”
Lt. Col. Florez began her career in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) as a Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) cadet. As an SMP cadet, she was required to maintain membership in the U.S. Army Reserve and fulfill her academic requirements as a full-time student. She was commissioned in 2006 from the Army ROTC program at the University of Texas-Pan American, now the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. She was commissioned into the Quartermaster Corps. Her first job in the Army was as a platoon leader in the 319th CSSB’s water purification and distribution company in McAllen, Texas. Later, as a captain, she served as the 319th CSSB’s headquarters company commander.
Florez reflected on the past two years and expressed gratitude, stating, "It has truly been a blessing to have been able to see my loved ones consistently. It served as a reminder of how far we have all come from our humble beginnings. I attribute my success to the unwavering support and strength I have found in my family and friends."
On May 7th, Florez relinquished command of the 319th CSSB in a ceremony presided over by Col. Russell Chambers, the commander of the 211th Regional Support Group. In his remarks, Col. Chambers praised Lt. Col. Florez for her leadership. "Beatriz took a great organization and kept it great. Her Soldiers consistently led the brigade and the division in readiness."
Florez attributes the battalion’s success to the hard work and dedication of the soldiers and civilians in the command. "Living so far away meant that I had to trust my staff. I was extremely lucky to have one of the most professional and capable staffs in the Army Reserve. I'm forever grateful for their hard work."
The new commander of the 319th CSSB is Lt. Col. Michael Acevedo-Pizarro. He will also travel far to attend his monthly battle assemblies, commuting from his home in Puerto Rico.
In her final remarks as commander, Florez encouraged her soldiers to be ready to answer the nation's call in the face of crisis, conflict, and competition.
"A private standing in formation today,” says Florez, “could be the future command sergeant major of the 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command. A cadet could be the next commanding general of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, but it starts with you having that audacity, that boldness to lead."