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Feb 27

Why a soldier?

Hello again from Afghanistan! It’s been snowing the last couple of days and I’ve had mucho time to write. The new project is coming along well and I’m having a great time with it. My family is still plugging along and doing great. So I thought I’d take a short break from Achilles and blog for a sec.

A question I get asked on a regular basis is why go to the Army now? Why be a soldier? Especially when the country is at war and me being 36 years old. I guess it’s a good question. But the answer is a bit of a story so hang on and I’ll get through as quick as I can.

9-11 is very real to me. There are many out there that won’t understand what I mean when I say that. I’m not from New York, and I wasn’t there when the towers fell, but I saw it and it made a severe impact on the way I view the world. I watched it, I felt it and I’ll never forget what I saw that day. My view of the world may be a blog post for another day but needless to say I wanted to get involved.

I thought medical would be the way for me, para rescue, which is Air Force, but they wouldn’t guarantee me the job, so I looked at the Army. I was given the offer of a life time and my dream job, a pilot. Due to some unforseen circumstances I had to give up the military right after basic training and return home to care for my family. It was a very hard time for me and I’m sure I was pretty depressed for a while.

I owned and operated some small businesses and worked as an independent contractor for a while after my return home but the whole time I thought about my missed opportunity in the Army. Well when the housing market crashed in 2008, my landscape business was dying and I didn’t know what to do to care for my family. I hadn’t considered the military for a long while, I was 33 and felt too old. But my wife suggested it and it became something I figured I would try again. The truth was I’d never really forgotten. It was one of the greatest regrets I’d ever known. When my country needed me most, I’d tried to help but missed the boat.

This time when I went to see the recruiter it was a different situation. The war was winding down and I wasnt needed especially at my age. I also weighed 280 lbs and was way out of shape. I had a long road to get back to where I was when I was 25. I was able to pass the tests and reenlist in the Army, but the pilot job was gone. I chose to stay in Army Aviation and crew a Chinook helicopter because it’s what I’d wanted to fly. Training was hard for an older fat guy and I did my best, worked hard and graduated and near the top of my class.

Next I was on my way to FT Campbell home of the 101st and though I didn’t know it, my first rendezvous with destiny in OEF 10-11. I was over seas for 4 months and learned what it meant to do my part in the war. I didn’t crew, I was a maintainer and learned a lot about what being in the Army meant. I missed birthday’s, Christmas and other holidays but to me it was worth it. This was what I signed up to do.

Now a couple of years later, I am a crew member and fly not every night, but a lot. I’m working on getting promoted to be a SGT and been gone from home 7 months now. Soldiering is tough because of the cost, not just of lives lost but time, time I can never get back. But given the chance it’s something I’d do again.

So in the end I wanted to be a soldier before I even knew I could write anything. I wrote my first manuscript in training, and completed it in Afghanistan on my first tour. So soldiering came first, writing second.

That’s the story but not the reason. I guess there is an allure to being a soldier. I don’t particularly like it more than any other job I’ve worked. But when I travel away from my base in the states and go home, or take an airplane ride somewhere on business I’m recognized and even honored from time to time. My wife loves to take me places in my uniform because people stop and shake my hand and she thinks that’s proper. For me I don’t mind, but I also don’t expect it, I’m just doing my job same as anyone else.

I wanted to fight, because our country needed defending. I wanted to soldier because I wanted my kids to know what kind of man their father was, not a hero, just a guy who does what’s right, because it’s right. I’m not perfect and I’m no saint I make mistakes the same as the next person but at least my choice to do my part in the military of our country is one I’ve never regretted nor one I would change.

Why be a soldier? Because i believe it’s required to understand what a citizen really is, and it was what our country needed at the time. I believe in what America stands for, I believe in what it means for the world. So that’s why I do it, and I’m proud that I have been and am, a United States soldier.

Well that’s it for today, as always I’m proud of my kids and wife. Play to Win!! And you stay classy planet earth.

 

About the author

Jon Pew

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