Proud American

The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent

Non-Fiction - Memoir
278 Pages
Reviewed on 06/01/2018
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Author Biography

Sergio A. Tinoco was born and raised in Rio Grande Valley, commonly known to them as RGV. As a child, he had gone through many struggles. Having to come up with a big decision to leave his family behind at such a young age, Sergio began to live a dangerous life in the battlefield with the US Army. Between the Army and the DHS, he has worked in government service for over twenty years. He earned a master’s degree in organizational management. His wife, also a military veteran, works for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Together, they strive to provide greater opportunities and aspirations to their kids.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Robert A. Groves for Readers' Favorite

Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent by Sergio Tinoco is a first-person account of three distinct phases of the author’s life. Beginning his senior year in high school, Sergio realizes he wants to be the one to break the cycle of migrant work his family has used for multiple generations to provide their sole means of support. He has bigger dreams for himself and enlists in the United States Army as a vehicle to finally break that cycle. His active duty years encompass the period the nation was involved in Bosnia-Herzegovina. His telling of the horrors he experienced during a deployment there is breathtaking. Following the deployment, Sergio demonstrates remarkable resiliency in battling PTSD symptoms. But, Tinoco’s service to the nation does not end with the military. Perhaps his most important contribution, and one that has the most positive impact, is his years of service with the Border Patrol as an agent on the southern border. Being of Mexican descent, he can relate to immigrants without apology.

Sergio Tinoco’s Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent is a story for the present when the topic of immigration is a hot button issue. Sergio’s story is one of the best American dream tales I’ve read. His perseverance to make a better life for himself warms the heart. One will gain a greater sense of tolerance for an under-represented segment of our population – the migrant worker. There were parts of Tinoco’s story that made me smile and clap, some which made me laugh out loud, and yet others which caused tears. He has included it all here. Proud American will empower everyone who yearns for a better life to just do it!

Ray Simmons

In my own humble opinion, there are only two questions you have to ask in order to know whether or not a memoir is good. Did the person live an interesting life? And can the person write? If you get a yes for those two questions, the book is a winner. I’m not talking about sales, that’s a whole different ball game. I’m talking about having a book that no one will ever regret picking up to read. A book anyone would be proud to recommend to their closest friends. I’m talking about a book your children and their children can pass down for generations to come. Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent by Sergio A. Tinoco tells the story of a proud American and a very interesting life. And despite amusing anecdotes about his struggle to learn English as a child, make no mistake about it, Sergio A. Tinoco can write. He writes very well indeed.

I almost couldn't help but like Proud American. The life it describes so vividly and descriptively in many ways mirrors my own. Don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of differences. But still, we both grew up as minorities in America. We both used the Army to break away from a cycle of life we felt was going nowhere. But the similarity I enjoyed reading about most was the fact that his family disapproved of him joining the Army. Mine were adamantly against it too. Proud American is very well written and the life he writes about, at least the Army segment, is familiar to me and brought back so many memories. We served in different arenas at different times, but Army life transcends that and Sergio Tinoco captured that universal quality well.

Arya Fomonyuy

Proud American by Sergio Tinoco is a fascinating, heartwarming memoir of a migrant soldier and federal agent. The only child of a single mom, Sergio grew up with his grandparents in Rio Grande Valley. At the age of seven, he does the kind of work reserved for poor migrants — picking crops. The reader follows as his grandfather urges him to study English and take an interest in school. Sergio would break an old tradition — that of migrants doing work in the fields — when he joins the US Military and gets sent to Bosnia-Herzegovina. The experience of the genocide is one that will have very devastating effects on his life. The reader follows this hero as he returns to join the patrol at the border.

A well-told tale, Proud American is one of those stories that succinctly captures what it takes to succeed as a migrant in the United States. Many immigrant workers will connect with the protagonist, understand his inner struggles and the challenges he faces. The author deals with powerful themes in a masterful manner — family, childhood, the dignity of work, the effects of war, loyalty, patriotism, and justice — and the conflict that creates the dynamics of this tale revolves around these themes. The narrative voice is compelling and the perspective of the protagonist comes across clearly in the writing. Sergio Tinoco didn’t only learn to speak English; he learned to write it excellently. Proud American is a memoir that showcases the challenges of successfully being a migrant in the US. It is entertaining and engaging.

Kathryn Bennett

Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent is the memoir of author Sergio Tinoco. He was the only child of a single mother and was raised by his grandparents in South Texas. The area he grew up in is commonly called the Rio Grande Valley. Sergio grew up a poor migrant worker, who started earning a living by picking crops at the age of seven. Sadly, his family also had to make use of the public systems in place to help poor Americans, welfare as most call it. Sergio suffered all the judgment and stigma that goes along with that. Sergio didn't want his entire life to be that way, he wanted to break the cycle, so he joined the United States Army. Life would lead him further down a trail, a trail that would not always be the easy road to travel.

I really enjoy memoirs and decided at the start of this year I wanted to try to read at least one every three months. It is easy to grab the latest celebrity memoir, but I find that I enjoy memoirs from the everyday regular “Joe” more. So I was very excited to be given the opportunity to read this memoir by Sergio Tinoco, not only because it's a memoir, but it really seems to be so relevant right now in the times in which we are living. I found this to be a beautiful, well written memoir that took me on the journey of a man's life. I felt like I was walking right next to Sergio as he experienced his life. Not only is the author brave, kind, willing to sacrifice, but he has a talented way with words. There are not many memoirs that make me feel as if I am just sitting in a coffee shop and talking with the writer. I can't imagine how it feels to have people make threats against his family, and having those same decent people essentially hating him because of his job at border patrol.

This book is riveting and engaging from the first page to the last. I enjoyed every moment and honestly was sad when it was over. We need more people like the author in the world, and most of all in the country. Despite not always being treated fairly or well, he raised himself up, bettered himself, and served. Ten years of service and PTSD were not enough to keep Sergio away from serving this country more. I have never personally seen what can happen with border patrol agents, but from my understanding it is a pretty thankless job, especially for a man like Sergio who has Mexican heritage. There isn't really much else I can say about this fantastic memoir; it is truly engaging and I think everyone in this country needs to read it. To hear a voice that has literally been there, on the front lines for many years. Reading this book truly will open your eyes and the fact that the writing style is conversational and well done is just icing on top of an already great cake.

Joel R. Dennstedt

Sergio A. Tinoco tells a compelling story in his memoir, Proud American. In fact, he tells several compelling stories of what it is like to grow up as a citizen of the United States burdened with a migrant Mexican background. Especially for a child whose early life centered on working in the fields with his family. He is proud of those who raised him, who taught him the meaning of hard work and becoming a man and a responsible father, and he is not ashamed of his roots embedded in an agricultural ethic with limited ancestral expectations. But right from the start, Mr. Tinoco aspired to more than the limited inheritance of toil without adequate compensation, and early on he began planning his escape to follow the elusive American Dream.

In this selective autobiography, Proud American, Sergio A. Tinoco relates his experiences and life lessons learned while growing up as a migrant, while serving in the Army, and while performing his duties as a border agent. In each of these specific episodes, Mr. Tinoco unearths fascinating and unique events that helped shape his growth with pride, experiences not often shared by the general public, such as his horrific recollection of a gruesome day spent recovering the deteriorating remains from a genocidal burial pit in Bosnia, and a tenuous one-man arrest of 54 undocumented aliens in the desert. Told with humor, humility, and candid self-appraisal, Proud American reminds the reader of the finer values embedded in a society mostly comprised of immigrants.

Jamie Michele

Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent by Sergio Tinoco is the author's memoir, told in the first person as he maps out the impressive journey of where he came from and what he's become. Much to the dismay and disappointment of those who love him most, as a first generation American citizen Tinoco always had plans that stretched beyond the confines of the Texan fields he'd been cycled into working as the descendant of migrant immigrants. Straight out of high school, Tinoco's patriotism prompts an enlistment in the US Army. With a country at war, the perils of deployment are meticulously revealed (in poignant, often heartbreaking detail) and a continued desire to serve ultimately puts him in the role of Federal Agent for the Department of Homeland Security.

Proud American by Sergio Tinoco is a raw look at the life of America's most disenfranchised demographic and the author's intense desire to rise above expectation. Written like a conversation with a friend sitting on your sofa, Tinoco's prose deftly brings about a range of mixed emotions that frequently parallel with his own determination and fortitude. For all the obstacles the author is forced to confront, there is a wonderful balance of levity and humor in his account (“Mr. Tinoco, what does the acronym ATM stand for?” I smiled confidently as I answered the question. “It means a toda madre, sir.”). In the current political climate, this memoir couldn't possibly be more timely, digging deep into the vitality of those struggling as "outsiders" in America's heartland...and proving that it is the very people who tend to be discounted as marginal who strive to, and become, truly proud Americans.

Gisela Dixon

Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent by Sergio Tinoco is an autobiography written by Sergio in his own words and in the first person. Proud American takes us through his life from childhood all the way to the present day. Sergio is born of a single Mexican mother, but although she and some others from his family are Mexican natives, he happens to be born in America. As a result, at the age of seven, he is sent from Mexico to America to attend school and get an American education, and he ends up being practically raised by his grandparents in the US. The book details his early experiences, how he only got to see his mother every now and then because she continued to stay in Mexico, his school and college years, his working long hours in the fields as a migrant worker and wanting to get away from that life, joining the US military, and later the U.S. Border Patrol, all the way to his current family, wife, and children and how they try to make a better life for their children than they ever had.

Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent is a well-written memoir and it was interesting to learn about migrant workers from Mexico and their general lifestyle, although this was several years ago. Sergio writes in a direct, straightforward style and so makes this an engaging read. The book highlights what a difference simply owning the passport of a country or simply being born in a particular country makes to a person’s life. If Sergio had been born in Mexico, his life today would have been totally different, solely due to the accident of his birth place. Thus, in that sense, this is also an educational and eye-opening read about the privilege of being born in a developed nation. I appreciated Sergio’s obvious bond with his own family and relations, and overall found this to be a good read.

Romuald Dzemo

Grit, family, loyalty, and service are values that readers will find in Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent by Sergio Tinoco, a gripping story of an immigrant’s quest to rise above the poverty line and give purpose to his life. Born to a single mom and raised by grandparents, a poor migrant worker of Mexican origins faces the struggles that poor people are familiar with. But he is determined to make something better of his life. He captures the ache for change in the opening lines of this memoir: “I remember a time when all I could think about was getting out of the town where I was raised, Weslaco, Texas. I was so sick and tired of having to work in the fields, picking crops.” So, he joins the military and gets assigned to Bosnia-Herzegovina just after the war. But the challenges he would face are many, and for ten years he is caught between the violence of the aftermath of war and his duty. Follow his story of survival through the ten years in a dangerous terrain to a new assignment as a U.S. Border Patrol, having to deal with the caprices of his own people.

Set in the early 1990s, this beautiful story will take readers along the less trodden paths that the men in uniform walk. The narrative is well-done, sprinkled with humor and numerous moments of action. The reader follows the psychological growth of a young boy who, in his final year in high school, never knew what he’d do with his life. The courage in making choices, the determination to succeed, and the grit in the face of vicissitudes are qualities that are well explored in the protagonist. The narrative is deeply moving and the voice is unique. The author lets readers in on what it feels like to be in the army and to work in an area that still feels the reverberations of war. Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent is a story of personal development, of courage, and loyalty; well-crafted and entertaining.