Station: Private First Class with the 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 297th Infantry.
His story: "As a child my family moved around a lot because my father was in the Air Force. In 1991, after my mom passed away,
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we moved to Alaska. My dad, brother and I live in Eagle River. I joined the Alaska Army National Guard in 2005 and became a Black Hawk helicopter mechanic for the 1/207th Aviation Regiment.
"I volunteered to become an infantryman after James Magsayo, my first sergeant, asked me if I wanted to go to Iraq and I said yes. I've made better decisions (laughs). It's not bad, honestly. But my first love is working on Black Hawks. Coming back I will have a nice chunk of change in my pocket and will be able to start off life really well and have enough for a nice wedding. From there, God only knows.
"Before being mobilized, I proposed to my girlfriend. It's sad to say this but my fiance is used to long periods of separation. Her dad was in the military. Her mom lives in Florida, and her sisters are there, so she has moved there. Her sisters are keeping her out of trouble because they love me (laughs). She's a student. I usually work in customer service, most recently for Best Buy.
"Growing up, I went through a period of rebellion with my father. My dad has other words for it but we will just use rebellion (laughs). I went into the Alaska National Guard Youth Corps, because I was an 18-year-old going no where. It's the best thing I've ever done with my life. I got a GED and EMT certificate. It was a tough program. I went in at a buck-25 (125 pounds) and came out at a buck-50 (150 pounds), all muscle. That gives you an idea of how much physical training we did.
"My dad took me to the airport when I was leaving for basic training and told me that besides my graduating from the Youth Corps this was the proudest he had ever been of me. My dad spent 13 years in the Air Force.
"While I was in basic he went and talked to my recruiter and joined same company I'm in. To see him in the same unit, it just kind of touched me. I teased him, 'Dad it is supposed to be the other way around. I am supposed to follow in your foot steps, not you in mine.' I use to joke around with him on that, but he is my hero. I love my dad.
"As far as Iraq goes, I wear the uniform just like everyone else here does, and I am going to do the same thing as everybody else and that's fight. I may not love every single day, may not smile every single day, but I am going to wear this uniform with pride and be happy about it."
Soldiers Stories is a monthly feature on the Neighbors page and is in collaboration with Staff Sgt. Mac Metcalfe, Public Affairs NCO, 3rd Battalion, Alaska Army National Guard in Camp Shelby, Miss. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.