6 February 1983: I board a greyhound bus to Fort Benning, Ga. I am on my way to Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Thirteen and half weeks later I graduate as an infantry soldier. I immediately report to Airborne school just across post. Four weeks later, after earning my coveted Airborne wings, I get orders for Fort Bragg, N.C. I spend about two years at Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne Division and then I spend the rest of my enlistment with the 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Howze, Korea. I left the Army in 1987 and joined the National Guard; I spent 17 years in the National Guard and transferred to the Army Reserve.
6 February 2013: 30 years later, I sit at Kandahar Airfield as the International Military Police Provost Marshal -- wow that went awfully fast! Thirty years of military service. When I signed up 30 years ago, it was for four years and money for school. I guess that plan did not survive first contact; no plan survives first contact, a famous quote in the military that comes to mind as I contemplate the last 30 years and realize as I sit here in this country we call Afghanistan how quickly it went.
I like to talk about my soldiers and the great job they are doing here and how the mission is going but in this article I am going to steal a little time for myself. In the 30 years I have been in the Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve, I have learned a few bits of wisdom. One is there is no greater importance on this earth that true professional leadership. I have seen the best of leaders and the worst. When one has the sons and daughters of the greatest country in the world in his or her charge they must realize the importance of leadership and how important self-less service becomes. Another thing I have learned is the soldiers of today’s military are some of the best men and women that our country offers. Third on my list, though not chronologically, is the importance of family. Families allow us to serve this nation and without their support we would crumble as a nation.
As I look over 30 years as a soldier, both part time and full time, I think of all the heroes I served with. One day maybe my grandchildren will say, “Grandpa were you a hero in the war?” I will answer, no, but I served with a battalion of them! (I stole that line from Maj. Dick Winters, 101st Airborne, Band of Brothers.) This is my third time in a war zone and hopefully the last, as my time as a soldier draws to the twilight of my career I am leaving my legacy in the hands of some very capable men and women who I know love this country as much as I do and will support her whatever the cost. Hacksaw-6 Out!