Today, I’d like to share my National Guard Experience with you. I served in the Maryland Army National Guard from 2005 to 2011. During my time in the National Guard, I served in the following duty positions.
- Company XO and Shop Officer
- G4 Plans Officer
- SSA Accountable Officer
- Fuels Officer
- Company Commander
- Regimental S4
- Regimental S3
I joined the Maryland Army National Guard in 2005, after spending almost 2 years in the Individual Ready Reserve. Prior to that I spent just over three years as an Active Duty Officer. I decided to join the Maryland Army National Guard because:
1. I missed the camaraderie and sense of patriotism the military offered
2. I wanted to advance my career, be challenged and learn new skills
3. I wanted to earn some extra money and build up my pension
After connecting with a local recruiter and getting in touch with the right people, I completed all of the paperwork in May 2005 and swore in as a First Lieutenant in the Maryland Army National Guard.
In my first job I was assigned to the 729th Forward Support Battalion. That was an amazing unit! The Soldiers were professional, friendly, competent and like a family to me. I started out as the Company XO/Shop Officer in the Maintenance Company in Hagerstown, Maryland. I spent about about a year in that unit, before I got promoted to Captain and transitioned to Division Headquarters at Fort Belvoir in preparation of our Kosovo KFOR8 Deployment.
For the KFOR8 Deployment I started working at Fort Belvoir, Virginia for a few months on ADOS, preparing for the deployment. My job was as the G4 Plans Officer. I helped our unit deploy to Indiana, then Germany and then Kosovo. I really hated the job (to be honest with you), but it was a good learning experience for me. Once we arrived in Kosovo, I moved to the SSA Accountable Officer Position (Warehouse Manager) since we had a vacant Warrant Officer Slot. I enjoyed that job and worked with great people, which were mostly contractors and HCN Civilians.
Once the new Warrant Officer arrived in our unit I moved over to the Fuels Officer position. That was a great job, too. I finished the deployment in that job and came home in November 2007. As soon as I got home I started looking for Company Command positions. Our state was going through a transformation, so I ended up applying for E Company, 729th BSB, which eventually became F Company, 128th Brigade Support Battalion.
I spent two years in Company Command and absolutely loved it. I poured my heart and soul into command and burned the candle at both ends for two years. I was fortunate to have an awesome 1SG and Command Team. You could not have asked for better, more qualified or more loyal AGR Staff. My Officers and NCOs were great. My Soldiers were hard working and good folks too. Looking back my command time was the highlight of my National Guard Experience, and also the highlight of my military career.
Toward the end of my Command Time I was burnt out and ready to move on. I was fortunate to find a vacancy position in the 70th Regiment (Leader). They had a vacant S4 position for an O4. I was almost eligible for O4, so I applied for the position and went for it. That helped me make Major at minimum time in grade. I spent a little over a year with the Regiment and worked as the S4 first and then as the S3 Officer.
After spending a year in the 70th Regiment, I resigned my commission. This created a lot of controversy with my peers and superiors. Most people thought I was crazy to walk away with 15+ years in the military. To be quite frank, I was simply burnt out and my heart was no longer in it. I was trying to run two businesses AND do my military duties, which took a lot more than one weekend a month and was mostly unpaid. I put a lot of thought into the decision and decided my only course of action was to resign. So in April of 2011, I resigned my commission and was transferred to the IRR. About a year later I resigned my commission completely.
I worked with some really great leaders during my time with the Maryland ARNG. Some of the people that really helped me advance my career include (listed in no particular order):
- COL Yaukey
- COL Singh
- COL Casey
- COL Blair
- COL Knepshield
- LTC Austin
- LTC Tine
- LTC Baker
My experience with the NCOs was even more memorable. There were so many great NCOs in the MDARNG. Some of the ones that really shaped my career included (in no particular order):
- 1SG Wetting
- SFC Trimble
- SGM Benton
- SFC Morrow
- SSG Webber
- MSG Newman
- 1SG Haines
- SFC Freeland
Of course, there are many other great NCOs that I did not mention here.
Here are some of the highlights from my National Guard Experience:
- Got to serve two years in Company Command with the 1/175th Infantry and F/128th BSB; both are awesome units
- Got promoted from 1LT to MAJ in about six years
- Deployed to Kosovo for 16+ months
- Spent about 12-18 months (approximate) on ADOS
- Attended approximately 10 military schools
- Received the Honorable Order of Saint Martin, the Meritorious Service Medal and lots of other awards
- Served with hundreds of amazing people
- Helped my unit receive Honorable Mention for Army Supply of Excellence Award
- Served as Project Officer in the Vigilant Guard Exercise
Looking back, I have a lot of great memories from my experience in the Army National Guard and I have absolutely no regrets. I truly believe that the National Guard and Maryland Army National Guard offer tremendous opportunities for someone who is self-motivated, hard working, and good at what they do!
If you are sitting on the ropes and thinking about joining the National Guard, you should definitely explore your options. There are lots of opportunities for career advancement, to learn new skills, to deploy, and to better yourself. Best of all, you can serve your state and nation at the same time. I think it’s the best of both worlds.
If you have served in the National Guard before, I would love to hear about your National Guard Experience. Just leave a comment to this post to share your story. If you have any questions, you can post them here too. Thanks.