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Left- Stephen Velazquez Jr, Right- Lester Leon Velazquez, Center- "Billy" Stephen Velazquez
•A little about Stephen Velazquez Jr.
I was born in Los Angeles CA. At the tender age of 3 my dad brought us to Vieques, Puerto Rico where he was born and raised. Like my dad, I too spent my early childhood years in Vieques. I was always a curious child and spent my days outside exploring the island and quickly learned which fruits are best to eat and what animals to avoid. I've always had a passion for animals and in my early teen years I volunteered at the vet office and assisted Penny (the only vet on the island at the time) with pet care and surgeries. I learned to swim when I was 4 and later went on to become a Certified Swim Instructor. If you were to ask, what on the island most impacted me, I would have to say it was the NAVY Sea Cadets Program.
The NAVY Sea Cadets was an after school and weekend program that is very similar to the boy scouts. When I wasn't in the pet OR, I was marching in formation or rappelling down a cliff. Through this program I learned many survival skills. We studied the local flora and fauna and we received training on how to use these for survival. I also developed an early military type discipline and appreciation for rules, order, and above all, safety. My high-school years were spent in the US.
When I wasn't rocking the number 13 on my football jersey, I was either on the sidelines playing trumpet with the band, or marching across the field in my NJROTC uniform. During the summers and weekends, I spent my time going back and forth between working at Universal Studios and The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. I learned a lot about showmanship and customer service during those years. After finishing high-school with a 3.75 GPA, I was encouraged to study electronics and computer technology. Even though I excelled at this and was top of my class, I decided that this life just wasn't for me. In 2007, I joined the US Air Force. During my 6 years in the USAF, I took on great responsibilities, created lifelong bonds, learned many things, and developed a passion for travel.
While in training I was promoted to Dorm Chief which made me responsible for over 200 servicemen/women. I did exceptionally well at my duties that I was promoted Bellow The Zone, a term used to say I received the highest rank of all my peers 1 year in advance. I was training to become an Air Borne Cryptologic Language Analyst. This means I was part of the intelligence community and as far as what my duties were, all I can say is that it's TOP SECRET. However, I can tell you a little about my training. For the language aspect of my duties, I was shipped to Monterey Bay, CA to study Arabic at the Defense Language Institute. On average, 1 out of 10 made it through the program. It wasn't exactly a walk in the park so I'm proud to say that I graduated with Honors. As an aircrew member I had to undergo some of the toughest training in the military alongside paratroopers and Special Ops Forces. Survival, Evade, Resist, and Escape (SERE) training.
I felt right at home during the survival training. Some of it was like a refresher but with these professionals, I learned way more about survival than I had ever learned before. I learned how to survive on any terrain, in any weather, in any situation. Boy scout camp and Sea Cadets training is one thing, but this was on a whole other level. Shortly after I was done with all my field training and technical training, a new mission was created. A select few of my peers and I were chosen to be in the first class to train at Beale AFB in Sacramento CA for this new mission.
This new mission was like none other and required highly skilled individuals with exceptional track records. We were now on a NATO mission to provide combat Intel support for ARMY Special Forces, the NAVY Seal Team 6, and many other classified groups from other countries. We were working for the NSA. I REALLY can't say more about that. I can say that we deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. The boy that went to Afghanistan never came back. I, the man who came back early 2012 never wanted to see another war so in 2013, I was Honorably discharged from active duty. Feeling like I could help others who had also suffered from traumatic experiences, I studied psychology.
While studying at University of Nebraska at Omaha, I maintained a 4.0 GPA and was even invited to join the Honors Society. I know full well that someone who can't swim can't help anyone from drowning. I had to take a good look at myself and understand that I wasn't able to "emotionally swim" and I could cause more harm to others than good at that point in my life. So, in stead of working with people, I became an animal psychologist and began training dogs at PetSmart. Nebraska has some very harsh winters. I'm an island boy at heart and in 2015, I finally decided it's time to go home and dig my toes in the white sands again.
I made it back to Vieques in July 2015. While working as a tour guide for my uncle Abe, I decided to put my USAF training to work and on October 10th, 2015, my tourism company (previously known as Vieques Hidden Trails) was born. I began taking people up to and through Cayo Tierra. It was a bit difficult to convince people to trust a random guy walking up to them asking them to follow him up into the woods but I persevered and my laborious efforts bore fruit. In less than a full year of operation, my company sky rocketed through the TripAdvisor ranks to #14 on the list of things to do on the island and in 2016 & 2017 I received Luxury Travel Guide Awards for excellent service. With growing popularity came growing demand for more services including snorkeling, boat excursions, and even biobay tours. I decided it's time to put another aspect of my USAF years to good use.
In 2017, 2 weeks before the devastating Hurricane Maria hit the island, I once again traveled to California for training. I enrolled in Aircraft Maintenance Technician training and in February 2019 I graduated Magna Cum Laude from The Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Fremont CA. During the hurricane, everything I owned on the island was stored at my aunt's wodden house at the top of Monte Carmelo and when the house got blown into oblivion, everything I owned went with it. I decided it was best to work as an Aircraft Mechanic and got a job at San Francisco International Airport. This way I could build professional experience while my new aircraft was being built, as I rebuilt my life and livelihood. I saved enough to get back on my feet and make a comeback. Now I have more services available than ever before and I believe I have a stronger business model and infrastructure than before. I'm super excited to showcase my home and welcome you to the new and improved Parts Unseen.
"This is my home, my life, my passion"
Vieques is an amazingly beautiful paradise island and I'd love to share it with the world. I have designed a set of ecotours that teach about our flora and fauna as well as our history. By joining us on one of our ecotours people are captivated by the island's charm and fall in love. Naturally, we seek to protect that which we love. Our goal is to get the whole world to fall in love with Vieques and in doing so promote the preservation of its natural wildlife and its people.
Vieques, Love It & Protect It
•Safety & Training
"Do The Right Thing Always"
You don't have to skimp on safety in order to have fun. My primary goal is to ensure that everyone has such a great time on Vieques that they fall in love so I tap into my many years of experience with swimming, wilderness survival, and even aircrew training to ensure everyone gets the most out of their experience in a safe and secure manner. When you come on a tour with me, you are trusting me to show you a good time, but more importantly, you are trusting me with your life and I take that responsibility very seriously. I have received top notch training in First Aid, CPR, and much more while in the military but I also remain current with civilian certification and requirements as well. I even became pet CPR and First Aid certified as well. Land, air, or sea, you can trust you're in good hands with me.
We've been operating since 2015 and have already received multiple awards for excellent service but don't take our word for it, see what people have to say about us on TripAdvisor.