Luis Enrique Pinto Jr. wanted to enlist in the Army to be a part of something “bigger than himself”, but before he could be accepted he lost 113 lbs.
Pinto Jr. was reportedly stacking 317 lbs. when he was turned down seven months ago by the Army due to weight requirements, so he set out to slim down to join, changing his diet and beginning daily exercise, an Army news release reported.
Army recruiter Staff Sgt. Philip Long didn’t think Pinto Jr. was military material. The teenager weighed a whopping 317 pounds and would have a tough time losing enough weight to be accepted into service.
Long said he “often sees potential recruits struggle to pass requirements even when they only have a few pounds to lose,” the Army release said.
“They (recruits) never put the effort into it,” Long said. “They never actually care enough and they don’t go anywhere. And then you turn around and you got someone like Luis.”
Pinto Jr. began doing more intense training such as running sprints and taking longer jogs, which he said was very hard at first due to his weight. He extended these sessions over time and now runs a six-and-a-half-minute mile — half the time it took him before.
He eventually lost 113 lbs., weighing in at a fit 204 lbs. Pinto Jr. said losing that weight also helped his attitude.
“When I was big, I was really insecure,” he said. “Now I’m walking with my head up high.”
Pinto Jr. enlisted as 14E, an operator and maintainer of Patriot weapon systems, and the job comes with a $16,000 bonus.
He will report to basic training in early September.
Long said he is confident that Luis can overcome any challenge he faces in the Army.
“To have that heart and that drive to keep pushing forward, it’s impressive. It got him to where he can enlist in the Army,” Long said. “That mentality is going to carry him through his career and through life and he’ll be extremely successful.”
Pinto Jr. said he “looks forward to the extra physical training within the Army lifestyle,” and plans to drop more weight.
“Hitting my goal weight definitely isn’t my end goal,” he said. “There’s still way more to come. I still want to get better.”
His forthcoming Olive-drab outfits in Basic Training will fit much better now.