"I was in the U.S. Army from 1990 to 1992ish."
WHY DID YOU JOIN THE MILITARY?
"I joined because I had nothing else going on. I was barely getting by in high school, going to night school to get my diploma. I was working in an auto body shop. I had no direction."
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A COMBAT SITUATION?
"I was assigned to an engineer battalion in Germany after basic training. From there I volunteered to go to Operation Desert Storm. When deployed to the first Gulf War, I was assigned to the First Tiger Brigade, a joint coalition of U.S. Marines and U.S. Army. I was attached to a mechanized infantry unit as an individual replacement and fought with the 2nd Armor Division. HELL ON WHEELS! Best damn patch in the Army! We were the first ground troops to go into Kuwait when the ground war started. It was intense. I was only months removed from basic training. "Follow your training" that is what I'd tell myself over and over again."
WHAT ARE YOUR MOST VIVID MEMORIES OF YOUR TIME IN THE SERVICE?
"The most vivid memories were of the time in battle. Seeing the aftermath, feeling the ground shake when bombs were dropped, clearing compounds. It was unlike anything I ever expected to experience."
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THE SERVICE TO OTHERS? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
"I would ABSOLUTELY recommend the service to any young man or woman that wishes to serve their country or just needs that discipline and direction in their life. Take the time seriously. Take the training deadly serious. The discipline and sense of personal accomplishment will be with you for life. I did not go to college after the military, but I have a successful career and a fulfilling life. I owe the credit to the men that trained me. The Drill SGT is someone that should have statues erected to them. They have saved many a young man's life. I owe a lot to what I learned in Fort Leonard Wood.
DID YOUR FAMILY SUPPORT YOUR DECISION?
"Yes and No. My Mother actually took me to an anti-war protest while I was at home on break between basic and AIT (advanced infantry training; where you learn your speciality). I was a Combat Engineer, explosives! I couldn't believe my Mother had taken me there. There were TV camera's and I clearly had the haircut and look of a recruit. I got out of their quick. Our Soldiers need to know we support them no matter what. I will never be part of any anti-war protest, no matter how I feel about it. You need to feel like you are doing it for the right reasons, not to think your country isn't behind you."
WHAT DO YOU FEEL WAS THE BEST PART OF BEING IN THE MILTARY? AND WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE YOU TRAVELED TO?
"Best part was blowing shit up. For real. I am some kid from K &A. I got to play with C4, dynamite, land mines, etc. Absolutely amazing! My favorite place to travel was the area near where we lived in Germany. The city was Heilbronn. It was beautiful. [There were] rolling hills, vineyards, amazing scenery.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO COMMEMORATE VETERANS DAY?
"I remember those who served and passed. Sgt. Michael Scusa. He is the brother of a friend. He was young when I met him and I told him how much I loved the time in the Army. He joined and fought and passed in the War in Afghanistan. He is a true American Hero and gave his life for what he believed. No soldier is lost in vein nor lost for nothing. We know what we are signing up for and I am proud to have known him.
I honestly feel that every Veteran should have off on Veterans day. No vacation time or PTO needed. We have done our part, we deserve our day. I'd still die for my country today, once a soldier always a soldier I guess. I love this Country no matter what condition we are in. It may not be perfect, but I'll take it over anywhere else in the world. When you see a soldier, we don't need a thank you for your service. It's overused, in my opinion. Respect, just a thank you, no other words. We did it for love of country, for love of family. I think many would do it all over again.