While war drags on in Iraq, David Summers said he doesn't want to sit on the sidelines.
Summers, a businessman, former Juneau Chamber of Commerce president and 2005 candidate for the Juneau Assembly, swore in to the Alaska National Guard on Saturday.
He said there is a chance that his unit could be deployed to Iraq.
"That was a big factor in me signing up," he said.
Summers intended to enlist before he ran unsuccessfully for the boroughwide Assembly seat. His decision was a year and a half in the making, he said.
This will be Summers' second tour of duty. At age 18, he enlisted in the Army and served mostly as a radio communicator in Munich, Germany. His highlights from 1988 to 1991 included watching the Iron Curtain fall in Germany and helping wounded soldiers during the Gulf War.
Now 35, Summers will be in the infantry and one of the oldest men in his unit.
"I hope I can bring some experience and leadership to the unit," he said.
Summers is a self-described "Army brat" who moved from base to base while his father was in the service. Both of his grandfathers served in the military as well.
"It had been a tradition in my family to serve in the armed forces," he said.
If deployed to the Middle East, he will entrust his Juneau business, Alaska Knife Works, to his employees, he said.
National guard members train one weekend a month and two full weeks per year to be ready for deployment to domestic or foreign emergencies. Summers' commitment will last for the next five years.
Some critics say the United States is waging war under false pretenses. But Summers said he believes the United States is there to help Iraqis set up a democratic government and a stable economy. And the way to do it is to train the local military and police to stamp out the insurgency, he said.
"I feel the job needs to be done. It needs to be completed," Summers said.
If deployed, Summers said his responsibilities may include escorting vehicles carrying goods and supplies to the region.
Summers said he's not bothered by the efforts to bring troops home and end the fighting. Some critics argue that the troops' presence in Iraq is the reason for the violence.
"If I were the enemy, I'd be agitated too," Summers said. "We're coming to stop them."
Andrew Petty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org