The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
June 20, 1999, Sunday
The 301st U.S. Army Reserve Psychological Operations Command at Camp Demi
Mark Petix, The Press-Enterprise
A SECTION; Pg. A05
Sgt. Mike Torres was raised in Desert Hot Springs by his grandmother after his parents divorced. He was 3 days old when Ruth Putty took him in.
Torres says he was a quiet teen who did not participate in school activities. He graduated from Mt. San Jacinto continuation high school. The school’s flexible class schedule allowed Torres more time to work at a pizza parlor to help support his grandmother, a retired telephone company employee.
At age 17, with his grandmother’s permission, Torres enlisted in the Army and became a parachute rigger.
Before leaving the Army in 1996, Torres had traveled to Germany, Canada, Jamaica and South America, packing 10,000 parachutes along
His grandmother died when he was on active duty. “The Army didn’t teach me right from wrong,” he says. “My grandmother did that. ”
Torres first joined the California National Guard, transferring a year later to the U.S. Army Reserve’s 301st Psychological Operations
Command, known as Psyops.
Torres lives in Riverside with his 21-year-old wife Beatriz, his high school sweetheart.
Sgt. Jeff Stinchcomb is a 33-year-old native of San Diego. The youngest of nine children, four girls and five boys (“I was the tie-breaker”), Stinchcomb joined the Army Reserve in 1996, following in the footsteps of his father, a retired Navy pilot.
“I joined because I needed to go out and learn more,” he says. “I needed to do something challenging. ”
A graduate of San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he and his wife, Jossie, still live in San Diego, where he works as an editorial research librarian for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper.
Staff Sgt. Kevin Scott, 30, is a Los Angeles police officer working the Newton Street Division in South Central Los Angeles.
Scott, who lives in Pomona with his wife, Robin, spent three months on the front lines during the Persian Gulf War. After seven years of active service, Scott left the Army in 1993 to pursue a career in law enforcement.
When he was hired by the LAPD, Scott took the advice of a friend, a former Green Beret, and joined the 301st Psychological Operations Command.
“He has legitimate authority,” says Sgt. Jeff Stinchcomb. “You can see it on his collar. The Combat Infantry Badge. That means he’s actually been to the dragon. He’s been to war. That’s all you need to know. ”
Army Spc. Bill Bershinsky, a reservist with the 324th Psychological Operations Command in Laramie, Wyo., is attached to the 301st Psyops at Camp Demi.
The 22-year-old construction worker joined the Army Reserve after he graduated from high school in 1996, continuing a family tradition
of military service. His father was a Marine Corps fighter pilot, one older brother is with the Marine Corps Reserve, the other with the Colorado National Guard.
Bershinsky’s enthusiasm makes him a key team member.
“He is a quick study,” says Sgt. Jeff Stinchcomb. “He just has a natural ability to do face-to-face contact, especially with kids. “