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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Return to the Army green... Part four (Staff Sergeant)

In September of 2004 I was promoted to Staff Sergeant (SSG), a promotion that came less than 2 years after my promotion to Sergeant (SGT).  This is a rank for which I was honored to finally achieve, it was the one promotion I never saw coming, didn't have a clue it was going to happen, to date it the only promotion or advancement that was kept quiet prior to being awarded to me, I was very, very surprised.  The promotion would be my last as an enlisted soldier, and it would come in a unit for which I still have fond memories and great respect for the individuals I served with during those years in Utah.  As a SSG I joined a core group of NCOs, all SSG, that I feel was collectively, one of the strongest NCO groups I have ever been associated with.  Our mentor and acting First Sergeant, Chuck Rackham, was a man I still am in contact with to this day (thanks facebook), and a man who was instrumental in my promotion to SSG.  He has been, and always was, a huge supported in my endeavors as an NCO and my decision to become an officer.  I almost wasn't an officer, my most cherished military goal was to be a Sergeant Major, not gonna happen, but now I have different goals for my military career, and none have anything to do with my personal rank.  They have to do with maintaining medical readiness for my fellow Guard soldiers, so when the state, or nation calls, they can perform their duties.

CPT Horning (right) and SSG Thompson
(left) in Nicaragua, date stamp is wrong,
butuniform of those years was the 
Battle Dress Uniform (BDU)
I am sure early on, Master Sergeant (MSG) Rackham, had his concerns with me.  I was not completely sure after being promoted to SGT if I wanted to continue to serve in the Guard.  I had even at one point tried to contact a recruiter to see if I had an option to transfer back to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), that never materialized.  I am certain MSG Rackham thought closely about whether or not I should have been an NCO during those early years, but his patience paid dividends in the end.  I stayed with the Medical Command and as difficult as it was early on to feel that I belonged, eventually, I became comfortable.  The only reason for that was my fellow soldiers.

Along with MSG Rackham, there was my great fellow NCOs SSG Troy Thompson, SSG Eric Sivertson, SSG Sherill Peacock, and SGT Dan Andrews, just to name a few.  Most of them now hold different rank, are with different units, or are out of the Army National Guard.  However, looking back, those times during the initial years of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) we had a good group of individuals, a good group of NCOs, and an absolute great group of fellow Americans I am proud to have served along side.

View into the Salt Lake Valley from
Little Cottonwood Canyon, home to many of my
former fellow Utah Guardsmen.
It is funny when looking back, reminiscing on old times, and thinking how much life has changed.  How experiences in life have changed the course or path that we as humans travel.  How the hardships, difficulties, and challenges we endure impact us in ways we never can comprehend and are blind to at specific times in our lives.  It is something that I touch on in my book, it is a fundamental aspect of being human, accepting challenge, facing fears, making mistakes, and walking through the fire to reach the other side, where ever that may be.  Looking back, knowing the great citizen soldiers I have shared my service with, I have no doubt that the strength we shared those many years ago, helped push me through to the place I am today.  For those friendships in service I am grateful, for that time we spent together I am honored to have stood side by side with each fellow soldier during those years, and for many more to come.

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