This week KCBD would like to thank Marine Corporal Joe Lara Jr. for his service to our country. Joe was nominated as this week's Hometown Hero.
"When he was small he always said he wanted to fight the bad guys," said Joe's father, Joe Lara Sr. That's exactly what Joe did. He graduated from Abernathy High School in May of 2007 and was shipped off to boot camp the very next month.
"When my son went into the Marines, it was kind of a scary situation for me because we had just lost a cousin, Chris Davis. He had just been killed over there in an IED blast," Joe's father said.
But there was no stopping Joe. It was in his nature, in his blood, to help those in need. While stationed in California as an administrative clerk, that need to help was only getting stronger.
"He called me one day and said dad, I can't do the desk thing. I need to be out in the field with my Marine brothers," Joe said.
He traded in the desk for a job protecting embassies around the world. His first stop was Russia in 2009, and then in 2010 he went to Bamako, Mali in Africa. Just recently the country had gone into an uproar. The Mali government was losing control and chaos was taking over the streets.
Joe was able to protect the U.S. Embassy, but he went beyond his normal duties as a Marine. Once the streets were clear and the embassy secured, Joe traveled to a nearby orphanage to make sure it was safe and supplied with clothes and food.
"That just amazes me that he has so much responsibility with the Marine Corps and the people he has to protect …that he put his time and effort to help kids that needed food needed clothing," said his father. "That's Joe, that's totally Joe - always out helping somebody who needs help."
That fight to help will always be with Joe. When he returns to Lubbock in October he will continue to serve the country in the Reserves. While he is currently a hero helping those around the world, Joe will be a different kind of hometown hero in Lubbock as he strives to become a Lubbock police officer.
"I'm very proud of him. I have two boys and they are my world," said Joe tearing up. "I'm just happy he's coming home."
Tune in tonight at 10 to see the full story.
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