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Proud American

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Being the only child of a single mother, Sergio was raised by his maternal grandparents in a South Texas region better known as the Rio Grande Valley.

This memoir details the upbringing of a poor Migrant worker of Mexican descent having to pick crops for a living since the age of seven. As a way to break from the family cycle of picking crops and depending on government welfare programs, he joined the United States Army and served ten years active duty. He was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina shortly after the Bosnian War only to find, and deal with, the aftermath of the genocide that took place there and be caught in the middle of several attacks. His experiences in Bosnia ultimately led to experiencing signs and symptoms related to PTSD. After completing ten years of military service, Sergio joined the U.S. Border Patrol. Being of Mexican descent, having family in South Texas, and in Mexico gave way to new issues of having to counter threats against his family and ill-willed opinions of him for arresting and deporting "his own kind."

278 pages, Paperback

Published November 1, 2016

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About the author

Sergio Tinoco

5 books15 followers
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.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Shelby.
Author 1 book39 followers
March 12, 2017
PROUD AMERICAN is a first-person account of a man’s life, from his beginnings as a child of Mexican immigrants, to his status as an honored veteran and a brave agent. Sergio Tinoco is a natural story teller. He writes with raw honesty, describing the hard migrant labor in the agricultural fields as a child, and the inevitable bullying he experiences at school from privileged children.

Tinoco reveals the agonizing break he has to make from his family - being born on American soil - he has a steely determination to seize opportunities available to U.S. citizens. To do so, he begins a journey into hell, where brutality and horror become the norm for him. His descriptions of what he experiences are candid and gut-wrenching. What he achieves, as he rises above life’s cruel circumstances, is inspirational.

While Tinoco has the courage to explore his inner challenges in his writing, he shies away from sharing the conflicts in his romantic life. Yes, he mentions them, but the reader is left to guess what happened and why. This is surprising because Tinoco otherwise, has the writing guts to express deep emotions when he soul-searches the loss of his mother in Mexico and his pain of shattering family expectations, as he moves forward and overcomes harrowing hurdles.

Tinoco takes the reader through his life’s journey, giving uncensored accounts that put the reader “in his shoes.” Tinoco, ever the hero, goes on adventures and brings back gripping stories. This is a book that must be read.
Profile Image for J.P. Willson.
Author 4 books55 followers
September 4, 2017
As one would expect from the title "Proud American", this is a compilation of the authors experiences mostly while serving in the U.S Army. While I applaud the man for his service and the accomplishments in said service, I personally would have a difficult time being "proud" of having to experience some of the horror the author saw while in that "service."
I am Canadian- and as odd as this may sound I am proud of the 'lack of military' we have in this country and around the world, yet I do have two nephews in the service and from that perspective can understand their desire to serve.
Having said that, this memoir is well written and tells of his many experiences while in the service, yet there are many facets of the account that are touched on and then forgotten.
"Unfortunately, I was also starting to drink heavily." Then little explanation of the effect this had on said military career.
"With divorce looming in the future..." it does become obvious this divorce happens, but for me the back story here would have added much to the book. Also lines such as...
"I needed to keep my mind occupied on something else other than the hard time I was having with my wife" or
"The thoughts of having left my son in the same situation of not having a father raise him was killing me slowly."
Not to mention the quite possible 'PTSD' he could have been experiencing from seeing some of the horror he has witnessed.
Truthfully I would have been much more engaged with the story-line focusing on how the author dealt with these situations-emotionally and psychologically- and others touched upon rather than the repeated fact of how much he despises running.
Simply my opinion though.
Profile Image for Angel Medina.
Author 12 books73 followers
February 28, 2017
While it took me a while to read this novel when I did it was amazing. I felt like it was my father telling me his life story and let me say this much it's a pleasure to hear about my father's past. I never had the luxury of reading a book about a border patrol agent or hearing a life story of a vet. It was a fun, but emotional read. You can see what army life really is and see the real emotions that go through an agent. However, what puts this over the top for me is the fact that the author is Hispanic and I can easily relate as I'm a Hispanic as well. If you like war memoirs, this is one you need to own and read! Sergio thank you for your service to the United States.
Profile Image for Robert Jones.
Author 6 books9 followers
March 24, 2017
What an honor to read of Sergio Tinoco's life account and what an important time to read of it with the current going ons in world politics. I am an Australian so I do not get the incite of day to day life in America which Sergio writes so well about. Here we have the story of a man who is an American citizen with Mexican heritage living in a country he loves and putting his life on the line for its freedom, and the freedom of the western world. But I cannot help to also appreciate how he and his minority are marginalized in their society and looked down upon. In today's world it is important to remember that we are all human beings and are in this struggle together.
Proud American is an excellent read, it kept me turning pages late into the night. Admittedly it is not written in a high literary style, and I actually think it is better off for this. The book is a real account of a real man, it is written boldly and its content is confronting.
Would I recommend Proud American? Yes, without doubt. This is an important book for everyone to read. As a historian I would even go so far to say that this is an important primary resource for the history of our own times. And as a reader, I would recommend it again for the story which is second to none.
Five Stars, hands down, read Proud American.
1 review1 follower
February 6, 2017
I read the review by Shelby, so I went to Amazon and bought it. I started reading it, and I couldn't put it down. I felt as if I were having a conversation with the author, Mr. Sergio Tinoco, as if he were telling me the story of his life. His voice is so real and he is so honest that I felt as if I were living through his experiences right along with him.
Can you imagine a little seven year old boy spending his summers with his grandparents, picking fruit and vegetables from dawn until dusk in the glare of the sun and the cold of the rain? It was an excruciatingly hard life, but it gave him a precious gift; he learned to WORK. His work ethic helped him in all of his later life by fostering his strong character.
The author appears to have rock-solid integrity, which very few people seem to have nowadays. I've always thought that a little adversity in a child's life would be good for the formation of a strong character, but the adversity in Sergio's childhood was way over the top. There is a picture of little Sergio standing in front of acres and acres of cabbages. I would have flat collapsed with all that work staring me in the face. Sergio had no choice.
I think Mr. Tinoco has a big future in novel writing, if he chooses that path. Readers like to get a little education, a glimpse into other lives, along with their thrills. This author has deep knowledge of both sides of the immigration issue. He also knows of war. His writer's voice sucks the reader right into the action. I am looking forward to more books from Mr. Tinoco...
Profile Image for M.J. Lau.
Author 5 books12 followers
September 1, 2017
Sergio Tinoco has led a full life – several lives, it seems. Growing up the son of a migrant worker, he saw the ways of American life through a shifting lens: an outsider, often moving around, with difficulty understanding the language and culture of America while living with his extended Mexican family. He knew from a young age he wanted more for himself than to perpetuate the cycle of his grandparents and his mother (his father was never in the picture). After graduating high school, Tinoco enlisted in the military – surprising even himself, and deeply upsetting his grandmother.

From there, his life seemed to be a series of tough breaks and good fortune, joy and heartache, and the near death experiences and life-changing events that only soldiers can truly appreciate. Although the pain comes through in the retelling, Tinoco’s voice is always hopeful, and often the hard times he endured seem all the more poignant knowing that he came through a better person at the end, even though he had no way of knowing that at the time.

Proud American is the uplifting memoir of a Mexican-American who treasures his heritage while also taking great (and well-deserved) pride in his American citizenship. The bulk of the story details Tinoco’s military service, including multiple deployments, his time as a border patrol agent, and his troubled relationships with his wife and son.

Tinoco’s sense of humor and humility bring color to what can sometimes be a bleak series of events. His prose didn’t quite grab me – there’s more a slow burn to his style, and at times it felt like he was telling someone else’s story because he seemed almost too matter-of-fact at times. I imagine this might be a mixture of his military background and the fact that he just doesn’t want to come across as whiny or ungrateful for the life he’s had. That said, his gratitude at the end of it all is humbling.

If you’re interested in seeing the issues of being an American, serving our country, grappling with immigration, and the full range of emotions that any family brings, all from the unique perspective of an immigrant’s son, Proud American will not disappoint you. Thank you, Sergio Tinoco, for your service.
Profile Image for J.B. Trepagnier.
Author 101 books674 followers
July 3, 2017
My grandmother was a child of war, with dual citizenship. At the age of seventeen, my grandmother and all of her siblings were sent to America by my great grandmother, some willingly, some against their will. My grandmother spoke three languages, but refused to speak anything except English when she was still alive. If you tried to speak to her in another language, she would just reply to you in English. She never spoke about her past, save once, when I got her to agree to give me an interview for a paper I had to write in college.

This memoir was much like sitting down at the dinner table with my grandmother over tea and just listening to her talk. The author has an easy, passionate way of telling you his story that can either have you laughing with him, or move you to tears.

Some of the things in the memoir, I didn't know were still recent issues in the US and I've lived here my entire life. I had no idea children still worked hard, long hours in farms since I thought we had passed laws years ago to prevent that. The memoir opened my eyes to a lot of things such as the plight of migrant workers and even service to our country as I have have never personally served and my family members that have do not talk about it the way this memoir does.

This would be a great read for families of immigrants or really anyone given the current political climate in our country right now
Profile Image for Joannes Rhino.
Author 9 books48 followers
July 4, 2017
Proud American by Sergio Tinoco is a very easy book to read. Unlike most of other books I've read recently, this one is a page turner. The fact that it is written in simple words to understand all type of readers makes it a big plus. Since English isn't my first language, sometimes complicated words can create a headache, which is not the case in this book.

Proud American is written from first person angle, and Sergio writes it well enough to make me feel like I was there standing next to him through the entire journey. I can feel his emotions, and what he's trying to accomplish in this book. This is quite an inspirational story to share, and it can be even better to see this book into a big screen. Thumbs up!
Profile Image for Robert Brown.
Author 28 books28 followers
July 5, 2017
Proud American is a memoir focused on an early life as a child-migrant worker, young adulthood as a soldier, and later work as a border patrol officer. All are described without varnish. Author Sergio Tinoco wrote with all the delicacy of a fist in the face. Ignoring his personal life, the focus is on responsibility; in all situations doing what is necessary to do, including pulling decayed bodies from a mass grave.

He accurately portrays the common adolescent mentality of the military and the sometimes conflicting sentiments of patrolling our border with Mexico. Without distracting analysis or philosophizing he invites us to experience a life many of us would fail to appreciate; but one for which he is thankful.

Tinoco did a fine and honest job and if you’re interested in exploring the raw edges of the social order, I recommend his book without reservation.
Profile Image for Loralee.
Author 12 books71 followers
March 4, 2017
This was a wonderfully inspiring memoir of a man who went from being a migrant worker to the army, and eventually to becoming a border patrol agent. Following him through his life and all he experienced was eye-opening, from the troubles and difficulties he faced as a young child working in the fields, to school fights, to his impromtu decision to join the military and dealing with his grandmother's backlash over it etc. It was like being there watching it all with him. I'm glad he included a scene from what he and his comrades did as a result of the attack on 9/11. Many of the troubles he had to deal with in Bosnia made my stomach turn, but were important to include as they helped to shape him. It was inspiring watching him work and push himself and eventually become an agent on the border patrol. It goes to show that anyone who tries hard enough and works long enough can achieve and maintain success. Even then, of course, his job was difficult, and as he described the difficulties he faced, and the difficulties people faced trying to cross the border, I could feel compassion for both him and them, which is a credit to his ability to portray the situation.

There was extreme and frequent strong language, but I supposed that's to be expected, since much of the work takes place in the military and all of the difficulties they experienced. I do think that some of the strong language could have been toned down or taken out. Even if people talk that way, it looks dirtier on paper than it sounds when spoken, and can be a turn off to many readers.

The reason I did not rate the story higher is because while the story was very gripping, there were a lot of writing mistakes that kept throwing me out of the story. There were places where, for no real reason other than it was a mistake, the tense of the story went from past to present and back to past again. There were instances when the wrong pronoun was used, or words were misspelled. I think that were the story to be given to a professional editor to polish the mentioned mistakes, it would strengthen the story, and help make the very many strong points shine all the more.

Kudos to the author for writing this great memoir!
Profile Image for Faye Carlisle.
Author 22 books2 followers
March 12, 2017
The Proud American is a fascinating autobiographical account of the author’s life. Before, I read the story I knew very little about Mexican migrant workers and their lives growing up. It seems amazing to me living in the UK that child migrant workers were allowed to work on farms in the relatively recent past. I thought that only happened in Victorian times but the author explains that there were officers who tried to prevent it but the children would say they were just playing on the farm. It is also a tale of a child rising out of poverty and making a better life for themselves, which is heart-warming. The author eventually realises that he should work hard at school after a difficult start and bullying. Later he joins the army in order to escape working on the farms. In the military, the author has both good times and difficult times. I was touched by the fact that the author missed his first child’s birth and the obvious sacrifice. I thought the emotional distance he felt from his ordinary life when he returned back from being in the field was well explained. There were also some accounts of some harrowing incidents he saw when he was in the field. Eventually, he leaves the army and decides to become a border control agent. It was interesting to hear about his family’s and other people’s reaction to this as he was from a migrant family himself.

I would have given the book a higher rating if the grammar was better as this would have made a good story easier to read.
Profile Image for Please Pass the Books.
396 reviews37 followers
May 24, 2018
Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent by Sergio Tinoco is the memoir of the author, 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 poingiant, 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 as raw a 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 bring 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.

Review written for Readers' Favorite.
Profile Image for Robert Groves.
Author 3 books
June 5, 2018
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!
Profile Image for K.W. Benton.
Author 2 books14 followers
September 22, 2017
Proud American is the author's account of his life. It is timely as headlines talk about who should or should not be considered U.S. citizens, the value of the migrate farm workers, and who should have rights to immigrate. Mr. Tinoco, has a way of telling the reader about very difficult things that seem to affect him but never destroy him. There are strong passages of this memoir and I am thankful there are people willing to serve in the United States military. Particularly, when they have to struggle in order to do so. I was uncomfortable with some of the things done but, that is why it is worth the read. There are some technical glitches to his writing that made it a long read for me. The author jumps around a good bit and revisits things more than I prefer as a reader. There is also a good bit of telling instead of showing. When he does show he does an excellent job. But, all told this life story is worthy of the written tale and I do recommend it.
Profile Image for Augustine Sam.
Author 6 books15 followers
September 10, 2017
An Emotional Ride

At a time that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) becomes a hot political issue in the United States, Proud American seems an opportune biographical work. A Mexican kid who calls his grandfather ‘dad’ is brought into the United States by a single mom, and as fate would have it, ends up a child worker. But the book is not about politics or child labor. It is the personal account of an immigrant who survives a difficult childhood, who breaks out of his family’s cycle of arduous farm work, who enrolls in the United States army, partakes in tours, faces up to the vagaries of life, and lives to tell it all.

Proud American is an emotional ride through the rough roads of the author’s metamorphosis from a young, undervalued Mexican to a, well, proud American.
Profile Image for Emma Miller.
227 reviews1 follower
October 22, 2017
Proud American is a novel that will relate to many people. It is based on the life of the author and is a really good read considering our current political climate. I learned a lot while reading this book and it gave me a few new viewpoints that I had never really considered before. It was well written and easy to understand. It’s also quite inspirational. I’m not a super fan of non-fiction, but I was entertained and absorbed by this book the entire time I read it. You won’t be disappointed if you read this book!
1 review
November 9, 2017
Proud American: what a great read. This book is a page turner. It is very well written and easy to understand. The book is quite inspirational. Highly recommend it.
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