In celebration of Veterans Day, Tribune reporter Cayla Grace Murphy sat down with veterans at Cullman’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2214 for rapid-fire interviews. The Tribune will be publishing an interview every week for November.
Army National Guard, 1979-2009
CGM: What do you remember most about the day you enlisted?
WC: The day I enlisted… I was a senior in high school. A friend talked me into coming to the Guard unit on drill weekend. I knew a few of the guys because they knew my dad. They hooked me!
CGM: Can you describe a funny moment from boot camp?
WC: What was so bad for me, I went to Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, in January, for basic training. It snowed the whole time I was in basic training. It was cold! I remember flying out of Tupelo on a little two-prop plane into St. Louis, Missouri. It was about midnight, 40 below zero. I wanted to get right back on the plane and fly back to Alabama!
CGM: What are some things you remember most about your deployment?
WC: I was in there (Iraq) in ’03 and ’04. I wanted to go to do my duty, just serving my country, doing my patriotic duties. I was a heavy equipment operator and mechanic – basically, in the maintenance section. Mine was dozers, construction. After they tore everything up, we’d go back in and build roads and stuff.
CGM: Do you have any advice for people transitioning back to civilian life?
WC: As a soldier, when you come back, I think you need to learn that the time you were in, that situation, you need to leave it behind you. When you come back into civilian life you need to transition yourself back into a regular American. I can tell you lots of stuff, but I left all that over there when I left, because I didn’t want to bring it home to my family.
CGM: Do you have anyone you want to recognize or remember from your time in service?
WC: In the maintenance section, we had a group of guys that I worked with that was outstanding. I don’t miss the war or anything, I miss the guys I served with. There ain’t too many of us left, and most of us retired, and we’re spread out, so we don’t hardly see each other very much.
CGM: Anything else you’d like to add for our readers?
WC: Being a veteran is believing in a country that is free. I’ve been in places where the people were not free. They couldn’t do what we do here. I think everybody should feel blessed that we live in a country that we can live our own lives, and do what we want to do in life. There’s countries over there, they can’t do that.
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