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October 10th, 2009

Five Questions For A Patriot – 2LT Eric Fuller

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Written by: Our Army Life

The following is from Gabe Haugland’s Our Army Life Blog

Inspired by Todd & Melissa Schulz’ “5 Things” series of posts, I will be posting a series of entries titled “5 Questions For A Patriot”. The first comes from 2LT Eric Fuller of the Tennessee Army National Guard. Eric and his fiancee Kelly are pictured below.


1. Why do you fight?

The honest answer: I really don’t know. I could offer a hundred different partial truths and vague emotions and conflicting motivations, but at the end of the day … I think for most people, it’s something that cannot be defined. I don’t think there are easy answers to this one. I could offer the usual clichés about family and country and service – all of which would be true – but the answer would still be incomplete.

I serve because something inside says I’m supposed to. Yes, I swell up with pride at the American flag, and I’m still angry about 9/11, and I want to protect a country I love, and I want to stand between the people I love and those who would harm them … but its more than that. Sometimes I fight it, sometimes I doubt it, but that voice is always there, even when I don’t want it to be … telling me that this isn’t really a choice at all.

2. How has military service changed your perspective on life?

This is my second time around – the first was five years active duty Marine Corps service from 1989-1994 (yes, I realize that makes me older than Moses). This time around, I appreciate it more … especially during these periods of active service (I’m a National Guard officer). The last couple years have changed my perspective enormously: I’ve developed a far deeper appreciation for the things we all take for granted; I’ve been impressed with my own ability to persevere and overcome, and equally astounded by my own weakness and clumsiness at times; I’ve rediscovered the important things – family, friends, the woman I love. Last time, I was too young to understand my own service; this time I see it for what it is, and even when I hate it – I still find some deeper meaning in it.

3. Are you afraid of dying for your country? Why or why not?

Heh. Tough one. Frankly, I’m less afraid of dying than I am of being horribly wounded. The CLS classes were an eye-opener on that front. Am I afraid? I guess at times I am. I’m more afraid for the people I’d leave behind … and I’m saddened at the thought of all the things I’d miss out on. As an infantry officer just beginning my training, it’s becoming something more and more unavoidable, though – the elephant in the room. I’m learning to kill … and to avoid being killed, or having my men killed.

I sure don’t want to die. I’m deploying to Iraq immediately following IBOLC, and I’m hoping the only thing I die of is boredom. But there’s a decent chance our mission will shift to Afghanistan … and I sat in the DFAC this morning listening to a story about 8 U.S. soldiers killed when their tiny outpost was attacked by hundreds of the enemy.

It’s the reality. I’m not naïve about it, although I think the odds of coming home safe and sound are awfully high; it’s probably more dangerous to wander into downtown Columbus than it is to patrol in downtown Baghdad. But yes … it scares me. But failing my men – getting them killed because of some stupid decision on my part – scares me a lot more. The responsibility of leadership is already becoming a heavy burden – and failing in that scares the [email protected]#$% out of me.

4. What is your Army occupation? If you weren’t in the Army, what would you be doing instead?

I’m branching infantry. As a part-timer (although it sure doesn’t feel very part time at the moment!), I have to have a civilian occupation. I’m an attorney by training (the best kind – a non-practicing one!) … but I’m actually considering taking the bar exam (again!) in my new state and resuming a legal career. Or maybe not … maybe a full time Guard position. Prior to heading to BOLC I was working in a private school and part-time managing a cigar store. At the moment, thanks to the deployment, I am entirely unemployed, except for the Army National Guard … who is paying me rather well for the next year and a half.

5. Who’s holding down the home-front while you’re away? Who’s at home waiting for you?

My soon-to-be-wife Kelly. See picture attached. She’s having an awfully hard time at the moment adjusting to the changes. Military life is entirely new to her … and now, on top of back to back schools immediately following the stresses of OCS, I get to disappear to Sandland for a year.

But she is enormously supportive. Everything I do in the Army is really for her, and I couldn’t do any of it without her.

About the Author

Our Army Life
My name is Gabe Haugland, and I’m an Iowa National Guard Infantry officer. I’m also an attorney, father, husband, brother and son. The Iowa National Guard has been notified that we will deploy to Afghanistan this year. This will be our first deployment as a family, and I intend to use this blog to keep our family and friends informed as we train-up for the deployment and finally make our way “in country”. We hope to capture the joys and challenges of “Our Army Life” and do our part to bring attention to the sacrifice that Army families make.

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