College, military continue to link brothers

Paige Godden

Two former Cyclones are currently serving their country in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Jose Berrios graduated with a zoology degree, and is currently serving with the U.S. Division North, 3rd Infantry Division, Force Protection and Biological Contingency Operating Base in Speicher-Tikrit, Iraq.

Jose’s brother, Lt. Col. Juan Berrios, who graduated with a degree in architecture, is the G5 plans officer for the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command on Joint Base Balad-Baghdad, Iraq.

Together, the two brothers have served more than 50 years for the U.S. Army, and have been deployed more than a dozen times, supporting military conventional and special operations.

Jose and Juan’s father retired from the military in 1994 in Puerto Rico after 30 years of service.

“My dad was in the Air Force; he was struck a little when we all went army,” Jose said.

“Primarily my job is to provide support, to make sure the bases in northern Iraq are protected … employing special technologies and systems to mitigate potential threats toward U.S. personnel at the bases; in addition, as a chemical officer, I’m involved in dealing with hazardous materials and weapons,” Jose said.

Juan said his job involves planning and providing bases with fuel and water and supplies. He acts as a lifeline to the troops throughout Iraq.

Jose was brought to Iowa State through the Veterinary Program — at the time it was only 1 of 11 veterinary colleges in the U.S. He said he fell in love with the campus and facilities after he started in 1985.

Juan started at Iowa State in 1986. He said he was brought to Iowa State because of Jose.

Jose said after he graduated he was commissioned into the regular army and went on active duty, where the majority of his service has been in the special operations community.

He has served at Special Forces Group Detachment, Johnston Island, dealt with chemical ammunitions, worked in force protection and consequence management. He has been in the 3rd Infantry Division since 2008, and is moving to Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois in January 2011.

Juan started in an active component, where he served in Panama and was commissioned as a military police officer.

“When I left school, I worked as a Civil Affairs officer. Now I’m doing planning missions,” Juan said.

“It’s been challenging here in Iraq. I’ve been able to pull all of my specialties together in order to make efficient plans.”

When the brothers complete their time in Iraq, Juan is planning on going back to the 210 RSG in Puerto Rico, while Jose transfers to Rock Island Arsenal.

Juan serves in the 13th Sustainment Command Expeditionary, and is currently conducting transition with the 103rd out of Des Moines. He said several members of the unit are Cyclones as well. “We’re going to be here for a year.”

“We have a couple of people that are Hawkeyes. Those are the guys that do security in the 128-degree heat,” Juan said jokingly.