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NEWS | May 27, 2020

Mr. Mercurio: Ky Guard’s expert on telecom operations

By Carrie Rogers Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

The month of May is dedicated to celebrating Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent, and the contributions they’ve made to American history. To commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), we share the story of Gary Mercurio, a civilian employee with the Kentucky National Guard, currently serving as the Telecom Operations and Maintenance Technician for the G6 Communications Office.

Mercurio was born and raised in the Philippines, a series of islands located in Southeast Asia. Though he cherishes his Filipino heritage, he and his wife departed the islands in 2005 when she was recruited to work as a Registered Nurse (RN) for Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Lexington, Ky. Their “American Journey” as Mercurio calls it, has led to a fulfilling life, which includes United States Citizenship and now, a civilian career at the Kentucky National Guard.

Q: Where are you from?

I was born, grew up, and studied in the Philippines. The Philippines is located in Southeast Asia and composed of 7,641 islands. The Philippines proudly boasts as the only Christian nation in Asia and more than 86 percent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic.

The Philippines was colonized by Spain and later by the United States for half a century. The American colonial period brought public education to the islands, as well as a system of government and infrastructure development. At this time, English was identified as the national language of instruction at school, together with the Filipino dialect. The similarities between the systems implemented during the American Colonial period and those of other western civilizations have eased the transition for those migrating to the United States and other western countries.

Q: Where do you live now?

Our American journey began when my wife was recruited in the year 2000 in the Philippines to work in St. Joseph Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky as a Registered Nurse. After completing all of her paperwork – State Board Exam, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam, etc., we were issued a Family-Based immigrant visa and finally traveled to Lexington, Kentucky on January 15, 2005. We have lived in Lexington since then, aspiring and fulfilling in our own little way, the American Dream. I have two kids: one of them is a member of the “Pandemic Covid-19 Class of 2020” and the other is a rising 5th grader in the Fayette County Public Schools system. We took an oath and became United States citizens on June 4, 2010 in front of Judge Karen K. Caldwell of the United States District Court of Eastern Kentucky.

Q: What is your background in Information Technology (IT)?

My telecommunication industry/IT background began after I finished my college degree in 1986. I have worked with various leading telecommunication companies and have been assigned to work in different countries. I have been fortunate to work and at the same time travel for free and experience different cultures, food and meet new friends in different countries.

Q: How long have you been with the Kentucky National Guard?

I have been with the Kentucky Army National Guard – Department of Military Affairs/G6 communications office as a civilian employee since July of 2016. I currently serve in the Operations Branch as a Telecom Operation and Maintenance Technician. Due to the sensitive nature of Background checks and security clearance are required when working in the Department of Defense (DoD) agencies/affiliates like the Kentucky Army National Guard. This is especially true in the G6. To avoid dual loyalty, especially in times of conflict, I have given up my Filipino dual citizenship.

Q: What made you want to join the organization?

For me, it is a privilege and an honor to join the Kentucky National Guard. Knowing I can assist with the communication requirements of our service members, even in a civilian capacity, is a true honor. Our soldiers have given so much in time and sacrifices in protecting us all and the very least that I could give as a naturalized U.S. Citizen is to provide them with quality telecommunication tools in a timely fashion so that they can complete their work/mission.

Q: What do you get out of serving?

There is great satisfaction in knowing that as a member of the G6 telecom team, I am making a difference in the work of our service members. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to make new friends and hear why they joined the Kentucky Guard and the adventures they have experienced along the way. So far I have visited almost all of Kentucky’s 69 armories and even ridden in a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. I am so grateful for the one-of-a-kind experiences I’ve had and truly believe being part of the Guard family is the best thing that has happened to me.

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