Soldier Q&A

Jeremy Clark

Rank:

E-5

Enlist Date:

01 Jun 1990 & 05 May 2008

How long have you been in the military?

12 years total service

Do you plan to re-enlist?

Yes- at least until I hit 20 year mark so that I am eligible for retirement

Why did you join?

A friend referred a recruiter to me and I had always been fascinated with military hardware. It seemed like a good fit and they were offering college benefits. I was too young at the time to really understand the calling to serve that I felt. I can’t honestly say that I completely do now either, but I feel like this is what I was meant to do.

Why did you pick the Service Branch you did?

I chose the Army National Guard because I wanted to serve, but I did not want the military to be my full time career. Also, I was avoiding the Navy and Marines because I hate water!

What is your Military occupation?

Currently 91B (wheeled vehicle mechanic). I hope to branch combat engineer when I receive my commission.

What is your current Duty Station?

HHC 41STB, Portland Air Base, OR

Best duty station?

Troop F 116th CAV (deactivated), Oregon City, OR- this unit worked hard and played just as hard. It was a combination of a great leadership and a great group of soldiers. The unit was constantly pushing to new levels of technical and tactical proficiency only because we worked extremely well as a team and had fun along the way. We weren’t externally pushed to succeed, everyone wanted to and we pushed ourselves out of personal and unit pride.

What are some are your past duty stations?

A Co 41STB, E Troop 82nd CAV, 162nd Engineer Co., Det. 1 HHC 41 BDE, Troop F 116th CAV, HHD 3/186 INF

Best part about serving?

To me the best part about serving is that I feel that I have earned my right to enjoy the freedoms that we have in America, for myself as well as my family.

What is the toughest/worst part about serving?

The hardest part about serving is the stress it places on the family. Even without deployments, it is a sacrifice of family and weekend time. Even though my family is supportive of my decision, I often can’t help but feel that it is a bit unfair that they have to make sacrifices for my decision to serve.

Awards and Decorations:

Army Commendation Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Overseas Duty Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Reserve Component Achievement Medal (x2), NCO Professional Development Ribbon (x2), National Defense Medal (x2), Army Service Ribbon, Oregon National Guard Superior Soldier Ribbon, Oregon National Guard Emergency Service Ribbon, Oregon National Guard Faithful Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge, Mechanic Badge

Your advice about enlisting in the military:

Don’t let the recruiter sell you anything! Make them do their job and help you decide if the military is right for you and if so, find the best specialty that fits you and your goals. Don’t settle for what is available or seems to have the best benefits. Sadly enough, recruiters have goals and positions they need to fill and will give you the sales pitch for whatever fits their needs, but only if you let them.

How would you advise someone to prepare for serving?

In today’s climate- be prepared to deploy. I find a lot of new recruits join for the benefits that the recruiter sold them and are seldom mentally prepared to live up to the obligations that come with those benefits. Realize up front that you are agreeing to go wherever and whenever you are told to go. It will not likely be to fun places doing things you want to do. The contract you sign is a commitment to serve and that should not take a back seat to shiny things like college benefits when you are making the decision.

How was boot camp (best/worse/funniest)?

Boot camp was a lot of hard work. I was tired all the time but looking back it was all a blast and full of experiences that I had never done before and many I have yet to do again. Don’t let the drill sergeants stress you out and ruin one of the best times you will have in your military career.

How long was boot camp?

8 weeks

Favorite military story:

I have a lot of funny and memorable times in my career, but I think my best story was a Christmas dinner of tacos in Baghdad. It is my favorite story because it is hard to get much worse than being half way around the world in one of the least hospitable places on the planet, at a time traditionally spent with family. Instead you find a new sense of family with the brothers and sisters you serve with and make the best of what you have and keep each other going. Oddly enough, I am still looking for a Taco Bell that is open on Christmas here in the US.

What is an average day like?

An average day is a lot like any other job. You have work to do and deadlines to meet. It is just a bit more structured and disciplined.

What is a crazy day like?

A crazy day can be anything from a high tempo training exercise that can easily go 24 to 48 hours straight, an 8 hour vehicle move using night vision devices, all the way up to huddling inside a bunker in Baghdad as rockets are hitting the pad next to yours or standing on the tarmac in the middle of the night loading your fallen brothers on a plane for their final journey home. You truly never know what the next day will bring sometimes, especially while deployed.

What is your future plans military plans?

Become a commissioned officer and hopefully get assigned to a troop leading position. I hope to someday become a company commander and possibly even a battalion commander if I continue long enough in my career.

What are your educational aspirations with the military?

In the short term I plan to finish officer candidate school and then officer branch training. After that I plan to attend captains’ career course and hopefully air assault school. After that, it will largely be a decision based on choices once I hit the 20 year mark and whether I plan on retiring at that point or continuing on in my career.

What military books/movies/publications do you recommend?

We Were Soldiers Once, and Young by Hal Moore, Band of Brothers

Best advice you’d give somebody considering the military?

Your attitude determines your destiny. Many things will suck, but if you choose to make those experiences build you up- they will rather than drag you down.

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