For several years at the South County pitch session, Carlos reminded attendees about an 18-acre parcel in Jamul, which finally sold in 2014. “It became sorta a joke because I kept talking about the same property year after year,” said Carlos. “I really enjoy attending our pitch sessions because they’re so much fun. I love the camaraderie and coffee and donuts. Other associations are so serious, but ours is very lively.”
But did you know that Carlos at age 19 served in the U.S. Army as point man on patrols through the jungles of Vietnam? “Walking the point meant I was the first guy the enemy would shoot at,” said Carlos. “I have no explanation why God protected me for those nine months. I was in some serious combat situations several times. Combat experiences stay with you for many years. My nightmares are not as bad as they used to be.”
His business card has a photo of him in Vietnam, along with fellow soldiers “Hillbilly” from Tennessee and Regalado from Texas. Carlos still stays in touch with several soldier friends who served with him. The words on Carlos’ business card say: “Walk Point for A Co., 1st of the 46th Light Infantry Brigade, Vietnam, 1969-1970.”
Carlos, 66, is planning a quiet Veterans Day this Wednesday, although for several years he said he drove to the airport on July 11th to have a drink as an anniversary of the day he returned home from Vietnam. “I am very supportive of today’s military troops,” he said. “The Army gave me many opportunities. I received good care at the hospital after my injuries and my treatment at the VA hospital.”
While still in the Army, Carlos spent two months in the hospital recovering from malaria and a hernia injury caused by jumping out of helicopters. He was awarded two Bronze Stars and an Army commendation medal for valor and heroism. After the Army, Carlos attended San Diego State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in history and economics and a master’s degree in counseling. He worked as a teacher from 1983 to 2000 with the Sweetwater Union High School District.
Carlos began selling real estate in 1985, while still working at Southwest High School in San Ysidro. He is proud of the federal grant he received that paid for the planting of trees and shrubs at the high school. Carlos said Juan Vargas, who was serving on the San Diego City Council at the time, was helpful with obtaining the grant.
Carlos grew up in a family with six brothers and two sisters. Carlos was age 6 when his father died. The family moved from Tijuana to Chula Vista when Carlos was 13. His first job was selling newspapers the week that President Kennedy died in 1963. “I sold a lot of newspapers on that day,” Carlos said. Also as a teenager, Carlos and his brothers picked-up free tomatoes that were too ripe for the packing house to sell, and sold the tomatoes in local neighborhoods to housewives.
Carlos said he benefited greatly from government programs initiated by President Johnson. “His Great Society idea has a bad rap today, but it helped a lot of low-income people like us at the time,” said Carlos. “Our mother had to fend for herself after our father died. She worked at the Kress store in Downtown San Diego. Until President Johnson, the unions did not give jobs to Latinos.”
Carlos was hired as a carpenter apprentice by George Stevens, who later served on the San Diego City Council. Carlos was building the Skyfari structure at the San Diego Zoo when he was drafted into the Army.
Today, his real estate activity consists mostly of passing along referrals to other PSAR members. His company’s name is Houses International Realty. In previous years, Carlos said he helped several clients keep their homes with home modifications, “but I’ve never charged a penny,” he said. “How could you take money from a hard-working family who is trying to save their home from foreclosure? I could not.”
Carlos and his wife are raising their granddaughter, age 10. Carlos also recently completed a 50-mile cycling ride from Rosarito Beach to Ensenada. “My family said, `don’t go,’ but I said, `if I have a heart attack, I will die doing something I wanted to do.’”