JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
In 1965, when San Antonio native Adam Quintero was only 19 years old, he volunteered to serve in the Air Force after being passed over in the draft. Little did he know that it would be the start of a federal career that would last half a century.
Quintero, who is currently the caretaker of the animals who call the U.S. Army North Quadrangle home, will retire July 31 after serving his country for more than 50 years.
As a teen, he would visit Fort Sam Houston and utilize the areas available for jogging and exercise. Then, when he was old enough, he waited patiently to be selected during the draft, but the call never came. He eventually volunteered for the Air Force, where he was assigned to an engineering unit. He spent six years on active duty, including one tour in Vietnam.
Quintero returned to San Antonio after his enlistment and began working as a civil service laboratory assistant at Brooke Army Medical Center in July 1971. In 1976, he asked to be detailed to the headquarters commandant as part of the Quadrangle support team when the animal caretaker was transferred to another position.
His request was approved, and he has been working there ever since, according to Jackie Davis, director of the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Museum.
“Adam knows his job, and he does it,” she said. “He has seen co-workers, supervisors, commanders, and even commands, come and go. New ones may have had opinions on how Adam should do his job, but Adam KNOWS how it must be done, and he has the overwhelming proof of experience behind him.”
The soon-to-be-retired caretaker said he has truly enjoyed his time ensuring the deer, geese and peacocks have been well-fed and cared for. As part of his daily routine, he feeds the animals, takes care of them, call the vet when they are sick, and maintains the pond located within the area.
During an interview in 2015, Quintero said the animals are part of his family.
“When something happens to them or they’re not right, I’m concerned,” he said. “I have to do something. I have to step in, and I’ll do everything within my means to help correct it. When they hurt, I hurt.”
The inhabitants of the Quadrangle have also garnered quite a bit of attention over the years from visitors to the area, and Quintero has enjoyed talking about them to those attending ceremonies or retirements, visiting the Fort Sam Houston Museum, and working in U.S. Army North headquarters.
“Not much has changed during my time here,” Quintero said. “The animals have always been here for the visitors to enjoy and become comfortable around. They are very lovable animals.”
Quintero now looks forward to taking it easy and spending time with his wife, but is sure he will visit the animals of the Quadrangle whenever he gets the chance.