Happy military appreciation month. In honor of the month, I am recognizing  someone in my life that is associated with the military.  Today, I am recognizing Robert Lopez.

Robert and I met in my classroom. He was a student of my Marketing class. He is very intelligent, clearly driven and understood what he was trying to accomplish. He is quiet.  He says little but when he does it is well thought out and fully formed.  He also has a wicked sense of humor- that is as dry a good red wine and equally as enjoyable. Robert served in the US Army for 8 years, joining right after high school.

Robert was with 19kilo. Robert served two tours to Iraq- each different from the other. His experienced in Iraq was pre and post troop surge which drove the tone and conduct of the duty at the time of his deployments. Being a tanker provides a different view of the world than for those in the infantry. Of course, there is that normal interdisciplinary rivalry between Cav Scouts (19Delta), Infantry (11 Bravo-) and Tanks (19 Kilo) and many, many other MOS s- but tankers- their reality of service is significantly different.  A popular explanation for Robert is – “ I don’t carry my weapon, my weapon carries me.”

His gear was different. His job was different. He rode not walked. Hard not to sound cocky when your job includes driving  “one of the most lethal ground platforms ever devised by man.”

Which brings me to my experience with Robert.  While he is an exceptional student but he is also an exceptional businessman. He recognized that all of the gear related to service in Iraq- the images were of infantry members. So he did what any industrious Tanker would do- he started his own company; 19kilo clothing.  This site is designed to provide clothing specifically to those whose unique view of their service is through the scope of a tank.   No one, not even Robert, expected the level of success that Robert is experiencing with his company. What began, as a class project, is a today a viable business.

Robert will be heading towards Loyola in the fall to study finance. He intends to balance his studies with his growing company.  Robert rarely talks about his time deployed but he is proud of his time in the Army. He is proud of the job held while in the service, the service he has done for his country and the men he shared that experience with.   As I walked up to the restaurant we were meeting for coffee, I saw a slick, black on black Mustang in the parking lot; a powerful vehicle with tinted windows- dangerous and cool. In the words of my son, ”one sick vehicle”  and it reminded me of the description of a tank. I wasn’t surprised when Robert emerged from the vehicle.  I admire Robert for the pride he carries for his MOS. I admire Robert for his entrepreneurial spirit in starting 19kilo clothing but most of all I admire Robert for who he is in every sense of the word.  I thank you for you time your talent and your willingness to serve. 60807_484118906152_1749637_n