He is a 2003 Plainview High School graduate, a husband, a father, a brother and a hometown hero after serving overseas in the United States Marine Corp.
Marine Corporal Carlos Plata Jr. joined in 2004 at age 19. Serving overseas in Afghanistan he was part of a "jump team" in 2005 where he escorted high ranking officials through dangerous territory and helped over watch ongoing missions.
On July 24th 2005 as Carlos and his team were navigating down the narrow roads of Afghanistan, their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, IED. All that was left was a mangled steel mess.
"It was so scary not knowing, not hearing from him for days," said Monica Plata, Carlos' wife. "You watch the news and hear about soldiers and marines dying… you just hope it's not you and pray for those who have lost."
Carlos and the other men escaped with their lives – but not without injury. "Immediately I was unconscious," said Carlos. "I was able to regain consciousness and continue the fight, but after several hours I became unconscious again. I don't really remember what happened from then on."
Carlos woke up in a medical aid station with a traumatic brain injury making it hard for him to retain information. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his service, but his fight was not over. He was determined to strike back against the very thing that nearly killed him.
"It was THE most important mission that I ever had," he said. Months after being in the IED blast, Carlos joined the Explosive Ordinance Disposal team, EOD. It's one of the most dangerous jobs service men and women can take. Their mission: disarm IEDs.
"I've been injured several times, and I've been involved in several IED strikes, but worst than that I've actually lost some friends to IEDs. Being on the team was something I kept truckin' at," said Carlos. "It's probably the most rewarding job that I've had in the military simply because every bomb that we dispose of meant that we were saving lives."
Carlos and his team disposed of hundreds of IEDs, saving countless lives. His service was complete in 2008, where he returned home to Lubbock a hometown hero to raise his two sons, Gunner and Dylan with his wife.
"I see people every day here at home that are heroes…teachers, police officers, firemen. What I did in Iraq and Afghanistan was temporary. These people put themselves on the line every single day. I really don't feel like a hero. I'm just a guy trying to make it now," said Carlos.
"To me he has been through so much," said his wife. "He has seen a lot in combat, had friends pass away and he still everyday nothing is too hard for him ... To me he is my hero."
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