Today is my last day as an “Active Duty” soldier and tomorrow will be my first as a “Civilian.”

After completing Advanced Individual Training (AIT), I was told my orders to both Ranger and Airborne school were canceled and I was being shipped out to South Korea. Once again, I am leaving my family for a yearlong tour. In South Korea, I was assigned to my first active-duty unit known as the “ROCK.” My time in Korea had its ups and downs but I grow as a soldier and advanced in rank quickly. Before leaving Korea I was given orders to Fort Lewis, Washington.

Reunited with my family after 18 months apart, I moved my wife and daughter to the Evergreen State. Fort Lewis was such a great place to be a soldier. They had a team of professionals and the training was top notch. While stationed at Fort Lewis 9/11 occurred. I remember that day just as any other American does, but for us soldiers, everything started to ramp up so quickly. Additionally, my family started to grow with the birth of our son, but family time started to fade away as we prepared for war. The time was drawing near for my unit to head out to Iraq in 2004, so on a split decision, I thought it would be best to move my family back home to be close to family.

Arriving in Iraq was the scariest event, that at the time, I have experienced. I was serving as the company’s Fire Support NCO and had the best Fire Support Team one could ask for. I could write forever about this difficulty time serving in Iraq, but this is a place I keep locked up. What I can share is that I emerged with so many true warriors that I am honored to call brothers.

Reunited again with my family after 13 months was such a blessing, knowing I was now in a safe place. Our family continued to grow for the third time with the birth of our youngest daughter, but soon after, moving my family back to my home station of Fort Lewis, I was again notified that I was selected to go to Drill Sergeant School. So, off I went. Absent from my family, I was learning the skills needed to be a Drill Sergeant. At this time it was the serge of the Iraq war and we had the reasonability of training soldiers and shipping them out. During this time I was selected to become a Warrant Officer in the Field Artillery.

In 2008, I headed out to Fort Rucker, Alabama to attend Warrant Officer Candidate Course. I met some of America’s best people that wanted to hone their craft. Upon graduation, I headed back to Fort Sill to learn the necessary skills to be a Field Artillery Warrant Officer. The training was hard, challenging, but awarding. After nine months of training, I was given notification that my family and I would relocate to Vilseck, Germany.

Germany was such a beautiful place. The unit made sure they put families first. This was the first time I could recall I was able to “take a knee.” I was assigned as a Radar Platoon Leader and had 31 men and women under me. The environment was family-friendly and one of partnership. Germany was a place my family was able to grow together and experience good quality time. As a soldier you can never get too comfortable as yet again our nation called and the unit was notified that we where heading out to Afghanistan.

Upon returning from Afghanistan, we packed up and moved to our home of Colorado. I was assigned to Fort Carson. We found our home and school district we wanted our children to be in. As a soldier, you continue to push and push, as the family stays in the rear to maintain the home base. Fort Carson was a great experience both for the growth of job training and the life it provided my family. We trained hard, but most importantly we played hard. Just as we got settled in, we got the call to push out again, but this time the mission was different, and not such an awful place. After the deployment, the unit deactivates as an Active Duty unit and the Brigade separated.

Now, I was selected to assist with standing up a new unit on Fort Carson. This time life was moving fast again with all the moving parts that occur with standing up a new unit, and the training that is involved. But just as you get in a rhythm, life throws a curveball. With very little notice, I was notified I was going to ship out to Afghanistan. However, this assignment turned out to be the best one as my skills as a Field Artillery Targeting Officer were sharpened.

Before leaving Afghanistan I was told that I was heading out to South Korea. I was on an all-time high with the work I accomplished in Afghanistan, that the notification of heading to Korea crushed me. So with very little time being home, I pushed forward to do my duty in South Korea. My work experience was the worst ever, however, the life long friends I made is something I am truly thankful for.

It was in Korea that my family and I made the decision to request for retirement. It was hard thinking about it, but in my heart I know it was the right choice.

Today is my last day as an “Active Duty” soldier and tomorrow will be my first as a “Civilian.” I would like to say thank you to so many people that have supported me in my life. It has not always been pretty with butterflies and rainbows, but it has been a good ride. First and foremost, I would have not been here if it was not for my Lord and Savior. To my wife of so many years, I cannot thank you enough for your faithful love to our Lord and Savior. His spirit lives inside of you and it shines upon us all. I love you dearly. To my children, you truly know what sacrifices are, as you have had to make them throughout your entire lives as an “Army Brat.” Please rest to assure that everything I did was done to provide you all a better way of life. To my Grandfather, (R.I.P.) the men that raised me to love, fight, and serve. You truly had a servant’s heart and I respected all the life lessons you thought me. To my Grandmother who will always take my calls any time of day or night, my love for you is unparalleled. To mother, thank you for always having a smile on your face, and showing me that through hard times there is joy and love. To my brother and sister, thanks for the love and support you two have given me. To my aunts and uncles, you all continue to show the true meaning of family, through being available at all times. To my friends that I view as family, thank you for always having my back. To the many soldiers I served with, I salute you for all your hard work and dedication. To the many NCO’s I served with, I salute you for your professionalism of being the Army’s Backbone. To the many officers I served with, I salute you for leading often in the most difficulties of the time. To my Warrant Officers, brothers and sisters I salute you all for your commitment to making our nation’s Army the very best. Lastly, I pray daily for our fallen brothers and sisters as you all have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom that you may rest in peace.

I can stand proud and look you in the eyes and tell you that I served our Nation’s Army to distinguish well! But, like the old saying goes “Old soldiers never die, they simply fade away.” Good Bless and thank you for reading my story!

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