Today’s portrait comes from my friend 2LT Scott Hendrickson, who I met during the Basic Officer Leader Course (II) in April of this year. Scott and I were in the same 9-man squad all the way from BOLC II to IBOLC, almost 5 full months of training time together. Scott enlisted on a Special Forces contract after 9/11 and is one of the very, very few new enlistees who make it all the way through Special Forces training. He has deployed 3 times to Iraq and was hit by an IED on his last deployment. Scott is a recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. I am a better soldier because of him and I am proud to call him my friend. He is a true hero. Below is a picture of Scott and his family after Ranger school graduation in November.
Scott answers my 5 Questions below.
1. Why do you fight?
A simple question that will get a complex response. When I initially joined the army, my sole reason was to fight the people whom had attacked our country on 9/11. It has since changed, because of the wars we are fighting. When I was in Special Forces, I figured I would be able to get into the most action possible and get my share of the fight anytime I wanted it. But one thing about being in SF, you do more teaching than actual fighting. So I think perhaps I fight so my sons will not have to fight when they are my age. I know that is being naive knowing the state of mankind throughout our history. So now, I fight in order to make a difference. I like to think I can make a difference in the people that I train, that I lead, and that I fight along side of. I know this might sound arrogant, but I hope that in the time I have left in the army I can make some sort of difference at home or aboard.
2. How has military service changed your perspective on life?
For the most part, I like to think my perspective on life has changed little since joining the military. I am sure my wife and family would say different. The way I see the world around us is completely different. Recognizing dangers before they can become dangerous. Julie thinks it is funny when we are sitting down at a public place and I just scan the crowd or our surroundings; now it is just a natural habit that I have developed. There is one thing that comes to mind about changes: After I was blown up, I was asking my chain of command how quickly I can get back out to the team house and get back with my team. I was in no condition mentally or physically to get back out to the fight, but I wanted to be there for my teammates. I still have the guilt with me from when a team member was killed and I wasn’t there to make a difference. Priorities in life have definitely changed over the years, but family still has to come first.
3. Are you afraid of dying for your country? Why or why not?
I’d like to think that I am not afraid to die for my country, but I know I don’t want to die anytime soon. Even after I was blown up, I never thought about how close I was to being killed. The word miracle got thrown around about my survival, and even now I don’t dwell on it. The thing that scares me the most about dying, is how Julie and the boys would do, and the scary part is how my boys would grow up without me. But once again, I try not to think about those things, so I can go on doing my job effectively.
4. What is your Army occupation? If you weren’t in the Army, what would you be doing instead?
Right now I am an infantry officer, like yourself, but the tabs on my left shoulder are different of course. HA! So as I begin my move to my new unit, I hope that I will get a platoon leader position when I get there, but we will see when I get there. If I wasn’t in the army right now, I hope I would be coaching and teaching some place in America. My degree was in History and Education, and the plan before the army was do be a football coach someplace. I actually had a defensive line coaching job lined up, but the head coach got fired, and changed the path I took in life. I know Julie would be happier if I was home everyday and not deployed around the world or gone at some locked-down school. But right now this is what I enjoy doing, even when I am starved and sleep deprived.
5. Who’s holding down the home-front while you’re away? Who’s at home waiting for you?
Well as you know already, my wife Julie and my two boys Lance and Jaden are at home for me. Without Julie being around I wouldn’t have success in my career that I have to date. I am amazed every day about how easy my life is because of her. Just the other day, she went to a baby shower, and I was left with the boys for the evening. No big deal right? So there I was both the little guys don’t want to eat, didn’t get much of a nap, and want to fight with each other. So I started thinking why can’t I be back at Ranger school right now. So I am totally amazed at how Julie accomplishes everything she does when I am gone and the walls haven’t fallen down around the family. Now if only the army would give me a huge raise, then I could lavish her with all the diamonds a girl could ask for, oh and take some kind of tropical vacation.
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