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 !@#$% 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.
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