Today, I’d like to share my experience serving in the Maryland Army National Guard from 2005 to 2011.
I joined the Maryland Army National Guard in 2005, after spending almost two years in the Individual Ready Reserve. Prior to that, I spent just over three years as an Active Duty Army Officer.
Why I Joined the Maryland Army National Guard
I decided to join the Maryland Army National Guard because:
- I missed the camaraderie and sense of patriotism the military offered
- I like the idea of serving my state and country at the same time
- I wanted to advance my career, be challenged and learn new skills
- I wanted to earn some extra money and build up my military pension and retirement points
After being a civilian (in the IRR) for almost two years, I was having trouble adjusting to civilian life. I just didn’t enjoy it. A part of me was missing. Maybe you can understand that, maybe not.
After visiting with the state’s officer recruiter, I completed all of the paperwork in May 2005 and swore in as a First Lieutenant in the Maryland Army National Guard.
What Jobs I Served In
During my six years in the MDARNG, these are the jobs I had.
- Company XO/Shop Officer
- G4 Plans Officer
- SSA Accountable Officer
- Fuels Officer
- Company Commander
- Regimental S4
- Regimental S3
Company XO Time
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.
During that time, I spent a lot of time on ADOS and got to know some of the key military personnel in the state. I spent about a year in that unit, before I got promoted to Captain and transitioned to Division Headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in preparation of our Kosovo deployment.
For the KFOR8 Deployment I started working at Fort Belvoir, Virginia for a few months on ADOS, preparing for the deployment. I thought the commute was going to kill me! I served 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 looking back, 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 finally arrived, I moved to the Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer position. That was a great job, too. I finished the deployment and returned home in November 2007. I got married the day after I returned home, so that was exciting.
Looking back, 2007 was one of the best years of my life. Even though I was away from my fiancee, now my wife, I got to spend a whole year thinking about what I did, and didn’t want, in my life. It gave me clarity and purpose.
As soon as I returned home, I started looking for Company Command positions. I had my mind on getting command of the Maintenance Company, I had been the Company XO for, but it wasn’t meant to be. Our state was going through a transformation at the time, 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 Maryland Army National Guard experience, and also the highlight of my military career.
Toward the end of my command time I was burnt out and thinking about leaving the military again, this time permanently. As I was contemplating the decision, I was offered a $20,000 bonus to continue my service for another three years, so I stayed.
Field Grade Officer
Immediately after finishing my command time, I was fortunate to find a vacancy position in the 70th Regiment (Leader). They had a vacant Regimental S4 position for an O-4.
I was almost eligible for O-4, so I applied for the position and got 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 Regimental S4 first, and then as the Regimental S3 Officer.
After spending a year in the 70th Regiment, I resigned my commission, and went back in the IRR. I resigned from the IRR in 2012. Truth be told, I didn’t really enjoy being a staff officer or Field Grade Officer. I would have been much happier staying at the small unit level.
Most people thought I was crazy to walk away with 15+ years in the military. To be quite frank with you, I was simply burnt out and my heart was no longer in it.
I was trying to run two businesses, keep my marriage together, and perform my military duties. There just wasn’t enough time in the day to do all of these things, and do them well.
I put a lot of thought into the decision and decided my only course of action was to resign. In April 2011, I resigned my commission and was transferred to the IRR. About a year later I resigned my commission completely.
Mentors and Friends
I worked with some really great leaders during my time with the Maryland Army National Guard. Some of the people that really helped me advance my career include (listed in no particular order):
- COL Yaukey
- COL Singh (now a 2-star General)
- 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 (now retired with 40-years of service)
- 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.
Key Highlights of My MDARNG Service
Here are some of the highlights from my Maryland Army National Guard experience:
- Served 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 five 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 in the Army Supply of Excellence Award competition
- Published three books
- Started this website
- Served as Project Officer in the Vigilant Guard Exercise
Looking back, I have tons of great memories from my experience in the Maryland Army National Guard, and I have absolutely no regrets about resigning my commission. I truly believe the Army National Guard offers tremendous opportunities for someone who is self-motivated, hard-working, and wants to better themselves!
If you are sitting on the ropes and thinking about joining the Maryland Army National Guard, you should definitely explore your options. There are lots of opportunities for career advancement, to learn new skills, to deploy, and 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 Maryland Army National Guard before, I would love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment below to share your story. If you have any questions, you can post them here too. Thanks. You can learn more about the MDARNG, by visiting their official website here.