Right Place, Right Time
Wayne Salazar knows there is something to the power of timing
By Justin Walker
Sometimes, you just have to be in the right place at the right time. Army Capt. Wayne Salazar would agree, especially since he knows what can happen in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Salazar grew up in Canyon Lake, Texas, about an hour north of San Antonio. He was a self-described “normal country kid,” participating in football, basketball, track and the Future Farmers of America. He graduated from Smithson Valley High School in 2007 and decided to pursue a criminal justice degree from Sam Houston State University (SHSU).
“At the time, I was interested in joining law enforcement,” he said. “I had not fallen in love with the idea of going into the military as my older brother had. Somewhere around the second semester of my sophomore year, I changed my mind.”
Salazar’s brother, who joined the U.S. Army five years prior, connected his younger brother with Lt. Col. Richard King, the Military Science Department chair at SHSU, which lead to a unique experience.
Arriving at the meeting in slacks, a dress shirt and a tie, Salazar expected an interview where he would ask for a scholarship. Instead, it turned into a physical fitness test consisting of a two-mile run and two minutes’ worth of pushups and situps.
Wayne Salazar, Graduate Student
MBA-Cybersecurity Certificate Candidate
Copperas Cove, Texas
Right place. Right time. Wrong clothes.
Luckily, Salazar was able to borrow his brother’s tennis shoes, while King had a spare pair of athletic shorts. Dressed in a hodgepodge uniform—including his professional dress socks—Salazar went on to earn the maximum number of points possible. After King made a series of phone calls, Salazar had a full-ride scholarship through the ROTC program.
“I worked my way up to greater positions of responsibility once inside the program,” he said. “I wound up being the student battalion commander my senior year and then commissioned after that.”
Salazar commissioned in the Army in 2011. Two years later, he deployed to Afghanistan for a village stability operation as a platoon leader. He rotated from outpost to outpost in his first two months with no true place to call home.
One evening while on patrol, one of his soldiers was shot and required a medical evacuation. When relaying his coordinates, he discovered a miscommunication. The error had sent Salazar’s patrol 45 kilometers away from where they were intended to be.
Wrong place. Wrong time.
Salazar was not at fault for the error and was placed in charge of the special operations mission while still leading his platoon.
“I just remember being absolutely terrified,” he said. “I was a 24-year-old kid with an organization of people who had probably no less than 12 to 14 years of experience.”
Salazar was awarded a Bronze Star Medal at the end of his rotation, an honor presented for heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement or meritorious service in a combat zone.
Salazar returned to the U.S. in 2014 and enrolled at Texas A&M University, where he earned a master’s degree in International Affairs. In 2015, Salazar earned his Army Rangers Instructor certification and served as an instructor until 2017, when he was restationed at Fort Hood, Texas. Over the next two years, he was deployed to both Iraq and South Korea. Returning home in 2019, he decided this was the time to pursue his MBA.
Salazar enrolled in the MBA program at Baylor in the spring of 2020. He was fascinated with the idea of how cybersecurity and business intersect and decided to earn a cybersecurity certificate as well.
“The future of business is all intertwined with cloud computing, storage and automated intelligence,” he said. “That is where business is going. If people aren’t into technology, others are using and leveraging those resources to get ahead of their competitors.”
After graduation, Salazar will be restationed to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he will pursue a master’s in Operations Management through the Command and General Staff College. As far as what is beyond that, time will tell. He is just hoping to be in the right place at the right time.