Until July 1, 1973, the U.S. military operated under an involuntary draft policy to produce manpower to fight the country’s wars. Since then, the great men and women of the United States have voluntarily chosen to serve and protect our freedom. The success of today’s professional Army is a reflection of the American communities whose sons and daughters willingly choose to serve their nation.
Today, we honor and celebrate those servicemembers through images and stories of why they decided to serve.
Stephen E. Barger
LTC USA (ret)
In September 1968 when I was 7 years old an olive green sedan drove up to our house outside of Ft. Jackson, South Carolina and three officers got out and told my mother, three brothers and I our dad was killed in Vietnam. I knew I would grow up to be a Soldier. It was already in my blood. We had lived on Ft. Benning and my first and best memories were of Ft. Benning. It became my life’s goal to wear his infantry crossed rifles and the silver oak leaves that came back with his body. Attached is a picture of me visit the Wall on the 30th anniversary of his KIA (4 Sept. 1998) shortly before I was promoted to LTC and got to finally wear those silver oak leaves. His name is LTC Ferdinand Ora Barger, 45W L35. He earned his CIB and first Silver Star and Purple Heart in Korea at the first battle for Pork Chop Hill.
Linda S Fischer
Aug 1973 – Aug 1976
USASA – SPC 5
I joined the Army in 1973. Although family and friends would agree I am a very patriotic person, my reason for joining was not very patriotic. I was having trouble finding myself and needed something to do other than drive a taxi. Once enlisted, I gave my all to my job. After serving 3 years active duty I signed up for 4 years of Reserves. I am proud to have served and would do so again without hesitation.
1983 -2004 – Airborne Engineer. Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Duty stations – Germany, Italy, Ft Polk, Ft Bragg (Twice), Ft Lewis, and Ft Stewart.
I joined for a number of reasons:
1. I never had to do Nam and I felt I owed that to those that did.
2. I felt a patriotic need to serve my country.
3. I only meant to do a 4 year enlistment and found out that I was meant to be a soldier and that initial enlistment suddenly turned into a 20 year career.
I am SFC Danny Wilson. I joined the Army May 1978 and retired Oct 1, 1998. Originally from Zillah, WA. I joined the Army in 1978 when it wasn’t “cool” to join. There wasn’t much of a job market and college was not for me so I followed in the footsteps of my father and enlisted. I spent 20 years in transportation (88M) serving in the US, Germany, Korea and Desert Shield/Desert Storm. We took down the Berlin Wall and scared the hell out of the Russians. Loved every minute of my career. My daughter SFC Leslie Wilson has 12 years active duty and recently completed her assignment as a Drill SGT and is an Iraq combat veteran. I also have 3 son in laws on active duty, all Army.
Here is a picture of me taken in Saudi Arabia in 1990. I joined the Army in 1985, I was in Basic Training about 1 3/4 month after graduating high school. I joined because I didnt want to continue working at McDonalds and also because my parents were unable to send me to college. I was the 3rd generation in my family to serve our country. My Grandfather, US Army World War II Veteran. My Father, US Navy Vietnam Era Veteran. I was and still am proud that I continued our proud family trait.
My first MOS was in Air Defense, bu that MOS was phased out and I was sent to the US Army Chemical School. I was the NBC NCO of the unit that I was deployed to the Gulf with. I was with this unit for about a year before we all were deployed so I had already had trust built with my “guys” with is very important with this position.
It is still great hearing all these years later from former unit members that remained in the Army, that I was the best NBC NCO they ever had.
I joined and continue to serve IOT repay/give back to the country that took us in and provided an opportunity to my mother so that I too can have a better future and provide for my Family.
You see, in our family, my mother was a first generation college graduate, attaining a Bachelors degree in Education from the oldest university in the Philippines; she worked hard to make ends meet but the future was very bleak. To provide a better life for me, she decided to work as a domestic help in Hongkong. My mother sent me to live with my grandmother whom I stayed with until my grandmother passed away then I lived with my grandma’s older sister. My mother then continued to work as a domestic help in England and put herself through college, this time earning a degree in nursing which was her ticket to the United States. At 15 (four months before my graduation from High School), I joined my mother and stepfather in Blaine, WA – it was Dec 83. I had opportunities to attend college but decided to join the military and shipped out in May 85, three months after graduating from Blaine High School – and the rest is history. I currently serve as the USArmy, Pacific Command Career Counselor responsible for the Retention Program encompassing the Pacific OE – (first female and Asian-American to become the 25th Infantry Division and USARPAC Command Career Counselor). I am an immigrant who upon reaching the 3 year requirement of service to the Armed Service, opted to take on the citizenship of the country that I serve.
For more great stories and images, check out the Army’s Pinterest board celebrating 40 years of the All-Volunteer Force: http://pinterest.com/usarmy/faces-of-the-all-volunteer-force.