Pattern Energy is proud of our teammates who served in the U.S. Military, and for Veteran’s Day we’d like to introduce you to Manuel Sosa Avalos. Manuel is a lead wind technician at Western Spirit Wind, a combat Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and an American hero.
“The thing that means the most to me is the brotherhood with the people I served with,” Sosa Avalos said thoughtfully. “I am grateful for that. We were there for each other then, and we’re still there for each other now.”
Manuel was born in Juarez, Mexico. In 1996, his family immigrated to Chaparral, New Mexico.
“After graduating high school in 2007,” said Manuel, “I did a year at New Mexico State University but had always been attracted to the Marine Corps. I enlisted in 2008.”
He would go on to serve four years in the Marines Corps. When asked why he joined the Marines over another branch of the military, he said, “I always thought the Marine Corps had the best looking uniforms. That plus the history and legend of the Marines appealed to me. All of it was attractive to me.”
United States Marine Corps
Manuel served in the Infantry, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, job category 0341, Mortarman.
“The thing that means the most to me is the brotherhood with the people I served with,” he said. “I am grateful for that. We were there for each other then, and we’re still there for each other now.
“You won’t get that kind of bond anywhere else.”
Manuel also appreciates the unique opportunities he had to work with high tech equipment. “In the Marine Corps,” he said, “we get to train with advanced weapons and equipment most people will never see in their lives.”
U.S. Marine on Deployment
After training, Manuel was deployed three times in four years, serving two tours in Southeast Asia, and one in Afghanistan as a volunteer.
“We were deployed to Southeast Asia in 2009 for about seven or eight months, and we all had a great time. The people we met in Japan, the Philippines and elsewhere could not have been friendlier, and for me it was eye opening. I got to meet people I’d never have met, ate delicious food and got to experience the cultures of other nations.”
“Our second deployment to Southeast Asia was in 2011,” he said. “While we were there, Fukushima happened.”
On March 11, 2011, the combined effects of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami caused the Japanese electrical grid to fail, which led to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan.
“We were in Cambodia when Fukushima hit,” said Sosa Avalos, “and we immediately loaded up and headed to the island of Oshima Highland to do humanitarian work and help our Japanese friends.”
Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan
Once their deployment was over, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines came home to Camp Pendleton, California, and had a surprise waiting for them.
“1st Battalion, 5th Marines were in the Battle of Sangin,” Manuel said. “They took casualties, and needed volunteers willing to deploy to Afghanistan and fill in empty slots in the unit.”
The Battle of Sangin in 2010 is widely considered by the U.S. and U.K. to have been one of the bloodiest battlegrounds in Afghanistan.
Manuel said he didn’t hesitate. “I volunteered, and was off to Sangin Valley in Helmand Province. Sangin Valley was rough.”
1st Battalion, 5th Marines saw combat while he was deployed, and Manuel is glad he came home unhurt.
“Mentally, an experience like that, it sticks with you,” he said.
National Guard, Civilian Life, and Pattern Energy
After four years in the Marine Corps, Manuel came home to New Mexico but didn’t feel like his service was over. He joined the U.S. Army National Guard from 2013 to 2015.
Fast forward several years, and he began working for an energy company as a contractor, at Pattern Energy’s Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge in Indiana.
Several years after that he moved to Texas to work at Pattern Energy’s Gulf Wind to support its repowering project.
Manuel said he always enjoyed working with the people he met at Pattern.
“After that, I became a contractor for Pattern,” he said, “and when I saw the job opening to join the company as an employee, I went for it and could not be happier.”
How being a veteran translates to a renewable energy career
Manuel said working as a lead wind technician has similarities to his time in the Marine Corps.
“In the Marines, we would get a mission, make a plan, and be ready to complete the mission,” he said. “There is a saying, ‘No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy,’ and that means when things change without warning, you need to adapt.
“Working at Pattern Energy, we all have to be ready to adapt. We have a team meeting in the morning, make our plan for the day and head out to accomplish that day’s goals when, suddenly, things can change. In scenarios where things change fast, what was your mission isn’t the mission anymore. Now, the new mission is the mission, because we need to adapt to things like weather, technical problems and more.”
Manuel says that working at a renewable energy facility is quite similar to being a part of the Marine Corps. “We are a team, and we all help each other. I know that my team at Pattern Energy has my back the same way I have theirs. Being able to adapt, work together and stay motivated we’re able to be successful and I am proud to be part of this team.”
Pattern Energy’s commitment to veterans
“I’m not the only veteran on my team,”Manuel said. “We’ve got Porf Mancha, a lead wind technician, and our facility manager for Western Spirit Wind is Scott Ross. Both of them served in the Marines, too.”
Pattern Energy is proud of our team members who have served in the military, and we are proud to share Manuel’s story with you all.
On this Verteran’s Day, we hope everyone has a moment to express thanks to the men and women who have served our nation.