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CPT Pedro Cuervo '17

Serving Proudly

Pedro Cuervo ’17 Continues on His Path in U.S. Army

Jul 31, 2023
When Pedro Cuervo ’17 set foot on the campus of Florida Southern College as a freshman, he already knew he wanted to be in the military.

His mother and father served, so the Lakeland native had a good indication of what life would be like in the armed forces.

What he did not know was what he wanted to do in the military. That problem was solved when he learned about the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps as a Moccasin Battalion ROTC program member.

“I already was committed to Army service, but the opportunity to serve as an attorney was one I knew I couldn’t pass up,” said Cuervo, now a Captain and a defense attorney at Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside of Tacoma, Wash. “It seemed like such an exciting and diverse way to challenge myself. Looking back, I think I was right.”

Career Path
Cuervo earned his Bachelor of Science in political science from FSC in 2017.
His determination and purpose were evident to Dr. Bruce Anderson, FSC’s pre-law advisor and the Dr. Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay Jr. Chair in American History, Government, and Civics.

“Pedro was always a relentless student, as serious about his immediate study as he was about his future,” said Dr. Anderson. “He took the toughest route to law school: via the military. He was not only granted a deferment for duty to go to law school but was also accepted into the JAG program before he set foot in any law classroom. The Army took his skills on faith, something they rarely do, but they saw something in Pedro. We all did.”

After Florida Southern, Cuervo graduated from the Stetson University College of Law. Despite a slight delay due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, he passed his bar exam in October 2020. After a training exercise, Cuervo was ready to deploy for service.

The skills Cuervo learned at Florida Southern helped guide him along the way.

“FSC challenged me to think critically and be open-minded,” he said. “As a political science major, one of the greatest skills I learned at FSC was understanding how different schools of thought shape the people around us and society as a whole. I’m very grateful that I had professors like Dr. (Bruce) Anderson and Dr. (Kelly) McHugh who held me to a high standard and encouraged me to work and think as hard as I could. I would not be very successful today without their guidance and mentorship.”

In the Army
After training, Cuervo’s first stop was at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, with the 2nd Infantry Division/Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Division. Camp Humphreys is the largest U.S. military installation in the world. It sits just 60 miles from the Demilitarized Zone that divides North and South Korea.CPT-Cuervo-in-Apache.jpg

At Camp Humphreys, Capt. Cuervo served as the Division’s Chief of National Security Law.

Capt. Cuervo was the action officer for all national security law-related issues serving 12,000 soldiers. He oversaw legal support for division exercises, was the point of contact for international and operational law issues, and was the lead officer for the status of forces agreement issues, including the trials of soldiers in Korean court.

Capt. Cuervo also coordinated legal support for international law and operational issues.

“The most important aspect of my job has been the welfare of the soldiers around me and ensuring that their needs are taken care of,” he said. “The Division Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, which is the legal nucleus that supports the division for all legal matters, is a tight-knit group. I have always strived to be a positive influence within the office and to make everyday fun while also completing the mission. I love being a part of a team, and I’ve enjoyed having a role where I am relied upon by the other members of the Division staff, and I can rely on them as well.”

Capt. Cuervo’s role will be a little different at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
He has a new challenge as a member of the Trial Defense Services (TDS), but it is one he feels more than capable of rising to.

“Instead of looking out for the best interests of an Army unit, I am representing individual soldiers who are charged with crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Pedro said. “My job will be to get the best resolution I can for those soldiers.”
Cuervo with fellow soldiers