View Full Version : A soldiers timeline

08-09-2006, 08:56 AM
In 1979 upon entering 10th grade I joined the high school JROTC program. While there we learned about the military. We learned to read maps and to disassemble and re-assemble the M-16 as well as firing it. We learned D&C and how to wear the uniform.

In my senior year I joined the Marine Corp on the deleayed entry program. I was going to be a helicopter crew chief with a goal of getting my warrent and flying choppers. Before going to boot camp I made a decission to try and finish college before joining the corp.

School never panned out and I moved to Florida instead where I started working construction. After a bad accident I had reached bottom and was looking for a way to change my life. Two days after my accident I went and talked with an Air Force recruiter and next thing I knew I was on a bus to Tampa for my physical.

I joined the Air Force on the deleyed entry program and went back home to TN to await out my time. 2 Feb 86 I was on a plane to Lackland Air Force Base TX where I would to basic training, Security Police school, M-60 Machine gunners specialist school, and Air Base Ground Defense School.

From there it was off to Anderson AFB Guam where I learned how to walk around a B-52 and keep the world safe from communisim.

Next step in the journy was to Minot AFB, ND where once again I walked around a B-52 and than moved on to providing security for Minuteman missles.

After a little over 2 years in Minot I was starting to get a little frustrated with the Air Force. Total force reduction was happening all around the millitary, bases were shutting down and rank was getting harder and harder to come by. So 26 Dec 89 I boarded a bus and headed home on terminal leave.

After a few weeks home I realized that I made a mistake, but it was too late. The Air Force was not taking prior service members and the only option was to join a reserve component.

In June 1990 I joined the 1/181st FABN and became a member of the TN Army National Guard. I went into the supply section and was going to be the unit armourer. During this time I was also looking at getting my commission.

Six months later, Dec 1990, we got our federal activation orders for Desert Shield and headed off to Ft. Campbell. I was transfered to the wire section and became a wire dawg.

When we hit the desert I was pulled out of my section to be a driver for a civilian weapons specialist. After a week of this I asked to go back to my section. Driving a civilian in an air conditioned car was not for me. This is when I realized that I was a field soldier and not some REMF that had to have all the creature comforts.

Toward the middle of our deployment I was needed in supply. The suppy sargeant was doing double duty as the battalion purchasing officer and he needed help to take up the slack. I was that help. My main job was to keep the battery supplied with ice and water. Every day I would load up the water buffallo behind the deuce and half and head across the desert to the nearest watering point.

It was during this time that I learned the importance of taking care of soldiers. Each battery had to supply water for the mess section and their batteries. The other batteries would fill up the water buffalo and drop it off at the mess hall. I would fill the water buffalo and drive around the area to each section to allow them to fill their water cans and than take it to the mess hall.

After Desert Shield/Storm I transfered to Service Battery as a cook. My thinking was that this would be the place to make rank. Well that only lasted 3 months and the oppurtunity came up for me to go to Alpha battery as a 13B.

The first annual training on the 8" gun was enough to get me hooked. Yanking off the first round (Charge 5 white bag) did it for me. The smell of powder and noise and the recoil, not toe mention the intense compitition between guns was like an aphrodisiac. So there I went back and never a backward glance.

In 1994 we converted from tubes to rocket and ushered in a new age in field artillery. I started as gunner and worked hard to learn my trade. Before you knew my gun was one of the top guns the battalion. Next thing I knew the chance for promotion to E-6 and gun chief came along. I transfered to Charlie battery as a gun chief and once again built up the reputation as one of the best guns.

Next activation came as a result of the reacent war in Iraq. We were once again sent to Ft. Campball, but this time we were under a different brigade who had trouble getting certified. Our battilion went through with flying colors, but was held back by a sub-par brigade. By the time they were ready to go, the ground war had reached and official end and after a few more weeks we were sent back home.

What has followed since has been trying and difficult times. Many people have been "voluntered" to serve with other units in different locations. We have had people spread out from Hawaii to Germany to Iraq to Afganastan and the SW border.

In more receant history I was selected for promotion to E-7 plt sgt. and sent back to Alpha battery where due to reacent deployments I wa the senior most NCO and selected to be the acting 1st Sgt.

During that time we have gone through a conversion from MLRS to HIMARS and a restationing plan.

After a year and half as top and not wanting to follow the flag across the state I have transfered to a Sustanment Briagade and once again have landed in the supply section. This is a new unit that is still trying to learn its place in the world, but this is a support unit and I'm not a support type person. I need to be where the rubber meets the road.

As my time grows nearer I struggle with passing PT test and I may be near the end of my career. I will know that answer next week. If I contiue on so be it, if I go to Fort Living Room I guess so be it. Lord only knows what the future holds.

Not looking for any thanks or congratulations or any of that mess. This is just an old soldier that might be nearing the end of a lifetime of service to the military and just doing a little bit of reflection. Don't know how to act as a civilian and dreading leaving the service. I've enjoyed my service and enjoyed the friends I've made. If I stay in I will be looking at going back to a line unit where I belong.

Quel Sera Sera


John of Phoenix
08-09-2006, 09:06 AM
Hellofa ride trooper.

Dale R. Hamilton
08-09-2006, 09:35 AM
Good story Chad- a lifetime of service to be proud of.

My own story is shorter. In June 1960, my 18th birthday, my mother and father put me on a train- (steam by the way), in Nashville Tennessee, bound for Ft Jackson, SC. We had a draft in those days, and Iwanted to go to college. My thought was to join the USAR under the Reserve Forces Act of 1955. 6 Months active, 7 1/2 years reserve duty. Basic training in those days was hell on wheels. Corporal punishment was in and used liberally, especially on little fat kids away from home for the first time. Basic was 10 weeks of sheer hell- with a 10 mile double time special to Tank Hill and back every saturday. Those who fell behind were sent to the Mess Sgt for KP duty of the worst kind. I always fell out- that is until about my 5th week, when I rallied and completed the run.

Anyway, I completed basic and was sent to MOS 642 heavy vehicle school that I thououghly enjoyed. I completed my 6 months, went back home, went to college and colpleted my reserve obligation.

Fast forward, 1980. I'm now 38 yo, working on a post doctorate. I get a call out of the blue from an Army recruiter- who offers me a direct commission to come back in. He was persuasive enough that I agreed on lunch, and finally agreed to come back in. He asked where I would be most happy- I said Walter Reid Army Inst of Research. And presto- thats where I found myself- doing great research on finding new anti-malaria meds.

Then one day- I go to a lecture by a certain MAJ Kevin Mills McNeil, US
Army Special Forces. I had never heard of special forces. He stood at the podium and the sunshine fairly twinkled fom his various wings and decorations. He spoke on the mission of SF- and I was captured hook, line, sinker. He told me of a new unit forming at Ft Bragg- 1st Special Forces. He also pointed out I was pretty old for such stuff. But he went to bat for me, and I soon found myself in an interview at Ft. Bragg. The deal was- first I go to jump school, then if I finish, I go to the SF Qualification course, and finall the Sf special tactics course. Long story short- I did. You see I was now a runner- sometimes posting as much as 50 miles a week. Airborne wqs a piece of cake. The Q course was very demanding but, ant near 40 now, I had the advantage of maturity, and the gift of robust health.

That was the begining of the most satisfying part of my life. Travel, adventure, some little intreague, and my chance to sieze initiative and throw myself into a program I created that eventually immunized 27,000
Honduran children- and eventually resulted in the elimination of polio for Honduras. Not to bragg- but the military gave me this chance- for which I was uniquely qualified for, to make a real contribution to mankind. And thats what the Army is so damn good at doing.

The first Gulf war provided me with further opportunites- and I took full advantage. I was with the 500 man 3rd Special Forces Group, and my responsibility as Environmental Science Officer was preventive medicine.
We can back home 6 months later- having lost only 15 man-days to non-battle injury/disease.

So now 3 years into retirement. Wish I could go back- maybe there will be another opportunity in another life. Maybe I'll see you Chad!

John Hastie
08-09-2006, 10:00 AM
Look, CS, don't be afraid of retirement.

Your probably young enough to get a job. This will pay for your boat.

If your not a sailor (civilian type), try it out.

I had one rip-stop Combat Field Jacket left and I use it when fishing.

My Army compass still works and you can tell war stories when anyone wants to listen. Just don't tell kids because then they will want to go into the service.

Also, the way things are today, they will probably still call you back for the next war.

I guess there is no such thing anymore as a permanent honorable discharge.

I know I used to dream of being called back into "service". I didn't wake up in the military again, but it still un-nerved me.

It might take a while to not react to loud bangs and air-raid sirens.

You have probably guessed by now that I was a citizen soldier. I enlisted however and was "regular" army. They were not that popular with the other "regualr army" people.

Best of luck either way.

08-09-2006, 12:09 PM
Retirement is great!

I love running into the various officers from the Air Station, and calling them by their first name. :)

I've had weird 'nightmares' of being back in the Army. Strange that it's the Army, considering I did most my time in the brown water navy.

No thanks given, as per your request. ;)

08-09-2006, 12:41 PM
go fer it Chad......ya ain't agonna be happy at anything else.....:D

Bob Smalser
08-09-2006, 02:38 PM

Why not apply for active duty, do the few more years necessary, and get a significantly better retirement package out of it?

These days, I believe an active-duty E-7 retirement at 20 years service is worth around a million and a half if you survive to the normal actuarial age. And of you elect SBP, if your wife survives you, she gets half of that until she dies.

08-09-2006, 03:17 PM
Bob at this point active duty would almost be out of the question. If I went back in right now I would almost have to do 15 more years to get retirment pay from the full time army. I only have right around 5 years active duty time and guard time don't count toward the 20 needed for active duty retirment. The years would count for pay purposes but not toward required number of years to retire.

Also if I went active duty it would not be as an E-7. I would lose at least one pay grade possibly two. But of course in 15 years it wouldn't be that difficult to get it back.


John of Phoenix
08-09-2006, 03:33 PM
I'm reminded of our previous discussion on how different things are between Active duty, Reserve and Guard. Not just the duty itself, but the retirement and benefit schemes.

Good luck on that PT test. We used to spend the first couple of hours of every day on PT. The old Daily Dozen, a four mile run in combat boots and then clean up for work. It was called Morning Parade. Also known as Mourning Parade. Over the years I developed shin splints, flat feet, bad knees and bilateral hernias. When I got out, I swore that unless someone's life was in jeopardy, I'd never take another running step for as long as I lived. So far, so good.

08-09-2006, 03:40 PM
I always thought that mandatory weekly PT on active duty help soldiers when it comes to PT test. In the guard it is strickley up to the individual to maintan his fitness level.

As you can tell it came around and bite me in a$$.


08-09-2006, 04:01 PM

My motto is that running is an emergency procedure. :)

After nearly 8 years of doing the 'airborne shuffle' (no, I wasn't airbourne) and even watching a senior NCO fall out of formation after the run with a heart attack, I knew there was something wrong with the program.

Sure enjoyed the lack of any PT or even a PT test while in the Coast Guard. We had weight standards, but that was about it.

08-09-2006, 04:03 PM
And of you elect SBP, if your wife survives you, she gets half of that until she dies.


I elected not to buy that insurance. The wife only ends up with half, of half, of base pay. It stops if she gets married.

There are cheaper insurance policies out there.

John of Phoenix
08-09-2006, 04:36 PM
I'm not sure where or when the "Every Soldier is FIRST an Infantryman" nonsense got started, but man it was a monstrous waste of time and energy. Flight surgeons grounded lots of guys from running injuries, feet, knees, backs. No telling how many guys left the Army because of it, but I know a couple dozen at least. "I didn't risk my life learning to fly helicopters so I could kill myself running to the moon and back." and out they'd go.

Brian, I've always been impressed with the Coasties sensible approach to things. If it's 110* in the shade, do your maintenance at night. If it's 15* below, work in the hangar. If it hurts, stop doing it. Emergency procedure; exactly.

Funny bit of graffiti I once saw:
"The US Army - 200 years of tradition unmarred by progress."

08-09-2006, 05:10 PM
Brian you have given me an idea. Maybe I can extend my service commitment by joining the Coast Guard Reserve. I may consider this after I pass my PT test. I will call them tommorow.


08-09-2006, 05:13 PM
I suggest yet another military career change. Instead of Ft. Living Room, I suggest Naval Shipyard Garage! :)

Bob Smalser
08-09-2006, 06:04 PM
There are cheaper insurance policies out there.

Depends on the size of your retirement check, but I don't know what the cutoff point is today. As SBP is offered to latecomers occasionally, it's worth running the numbers again if you haven't elected it. Used to be E-7's could do better with a private annuity, but E-8 and above couldn't.

Plus, no private annuity or insurance will ever be as reliable as the USG.

08-09-2006, 08:58 PM
Bob's right, Uncles check is bigger'n better that the other two that I git......

08-09-2006, 09:03 PM
I wouldn't buy another life insurance policy that pays out slowly over time. It would be a lump sum payment the wife can invest or save as she desired.

I do need to actually buy that second policy! I do have the VGLI insurance.

08-10-2006, 06:39 AM
I may be a little too old for the Coast Guard. Their web site has a max age of 40. I will still talk to the recruiter and see what he says.


08-10-2006, 10:29 AM
Whichever you do, Chad, you have already compiled a record that many would envy if they knew of it. You've done well for your country, your family, and yourself. Thank you.