“I was Army National Guard for 13 years. I first signed up on September 25th, 1998. So obviously a very different world than what we are living in now. When I signed up, I heard that the National Guard hadn’t been activated since WWII. Then you fast forward three years, 9-11 happened, and I served my first tour overseas. My first tour was 10 months, and my second one was combined almost 2 years. Altogether I was gone from the states for four years active duty.
“I went to the Sinai Peninsula, which is between Egypt and Israel. It was a peace-keeping mission which came about from the Camp David accord in 1981. Two times while we were there, there were terrorist attacks. My unit wasn’t actually at the place of the attack, but I had my wife back home and I knew she would see it on the news, so I had to call her to let her know I was ok. Once the war started ramping up more and more, I ended up in Iraq in 2008. I was assigned to the Tactical Operations Center as an officer.
“When I was younger I definitely experienced racism. Either being called the “N” word, or because I was half-white half-black being called a “half-breed.” I definitely had to deal with a lot of that growing up. Now there is definitely prejudice in the service, but here’s the difference with the Army: Guys have no choice but to work together. You have to work together as a team and you have to get along, because one day your life may depend on it. So people have to overcome their prejudices and learn to work together as a team.
“I had a guy in my basic training, I knew a guy who told me that I was the first black guy he ever met. He was from deep in the backcountry of Missouri. He never really had any face-to-face contact with black people, and all he knew about them was what people told him, and they weren’t good stories. But when you are all living together, you can’t hide what you’re like when you are around each other 24-7.
“I left in 2010 ranked as a Captain. I now have 8 kids, and am a police officer in Lakewood. Now I am a Sergeant and the Army definitely prepared me for that. I am very proud of my time in the service. Veterans Day is very meaningful to me because of the camaraderie. Just thinking and reflecting back on the guys I served with, some still in the service, some retired. Being able to link up with them, and being able to share the respect we have for each other. Later on I will be going out with my neighbor, who served in the Vietnam war. Just being that we both served, two different eras, but that we were both in the service, we share a common bond. You know you have endured something that many in the population have not.”
(Photo supplied by subject)