Into the Minds of Our Veterans

Shemar Alexander/The Avion Newspaper
Shemar Alexander / Staff Reporter
Shemar Alexander/The Avion Newspaper

Shemar Alexander/The Avion Newspaper

“What inspired me to join was paying for school the most part, but my family wasn’t that really supportive of my choice. After a while they seemed to tell me to do things and stay for a few years but not to go too far. In my personal opinion joining the military was a mistake that worked out for the best. I get to come to Riddle and they pay for everything except flight fees. A lot of people say I’ve got it made, but still if I could give it all back to regain my body I would. I’m proud of my service, don’t get me wrong, but that’s one thing that God worked out.

I came to Riddle because I wanted to fly. I love planes and helicopters; I love anything that leaves the ground. Once it leaves the ground I’m instantly fascinated, with it. What induced my passion for aviation was heredity, my dad wanted to come to Embry-Riddle in the 70’s. I didn’t find this out until a few months ago when I started to attend Riddle. I gained my love for aviation from him.  You know that feeling when you see somebody that had a passion for something but they never got the chance to experience it? It makes you feel like: ‘Wow, I better not mess this up because someone didn’t get the chance to get the experiences I have.’ That’s mostly my drive, because I have the opportunity that a lot of people did not and will not get.

My advice for the youth in ROTC is not the advice most people would give, so the people that read this will have to take this with a grain of salt: It’s not everything it’s cracked up to be. It’s an honorable job, but it’s not worth it if you have plans for things you want to do later on in life, because if you join just to pay for school or just to fly, then it just might not be worth it in the long run. At the end of the day, you still always report to somebody, even the highest four star general is still under the President of the United States’ thumb. No matter what your rank is, you still have to do what you’re told, when you’re told, or you’ll have to pay the price for it. So granted, the higher you go you get more authority, but at the same time when you’re told to do something, you have to do it. I wasn’t one of those people that liked to be told where to go, where to be or what uniform to wear. I like to have a little bit of freedom and my own expression of thought. So if people decide to continue to go on and join the military, they need to be prepared and know what they’re getting into, because if they’re not then it can be devastating.”

-Christopher Marshall, Army E4 Specials

Shemar Alexander/The Avion Newspaper

Shemar Alexander/The Avion Newspaper

“I joined the military because there were no jobs, I needed to support my family, and I always wanted to defend my country. I already figured on doing it, but I just got sidetracked on life. For example, I went to college, had a family. So it was about time that I joined and I said “Well, I’ve been putting this on the back burner for a while; might as well get this done now.” Unfortunately, I was injured and never badged so I was bounced around through different companies doing different things from quarterdeck to gate guard. I did a lot of detail work like cleaning or guard duty.

I wanted to join the Navy, but they turned me down, so I went to try the Army and they welcomed me with open arms. I had the coolest recruiter, then he got transferred. Then I got another cool recruiter and he introduced me to the Explosive Ordinance Disposal. I thought to myself, “I get to save lives by blowing stuff up, hell yeah sign me up!” It’s a great decision joining the Military because you get to save lives and protect freedom, but it was bad on my part because my body got messed up in the process.

My advice for ROTC kids is to find your platoon sergeant, and talk to him to find out that you aren’t anything compared to the guys in the military now. You guys aren’t doing the real things they do in the military. Don’t walk around thinking you’re the big dog on the block because you’re not ready for what’s about to come your way.

Some of the best lieutenants I’ve met were prior enlisted; a lot of them went to college and did ROTC, but not everyone is going to be the best. The reason they were the best is because they understand how the world at the bottom works. You can’t lead unless you know how to follow, yeah you might have guys and some privates under you but they need a leader who’s not out for just himself and that is willing to work with them.

I wish and think every damn day that I could go back to the military, but I know that there’s no way I can because of my injuries. There’s not a single moment that I want to be here at Riddle and not defending my country. I wrote that check to give my life to the army and my country, but never once did I ever rescind my oath, never once does any veteran rescind that oath. Many people are there for a paycheck but I was there for the ideal, the very basis of defending. I love America, even though it might be on the wrong track at the moment, but I love my country and I would do anything for it.

My passion for aviation was induced by all the airshows I’ve seen growing up in Florida. Florida is the best place to see airshows because there are so many air shows every year. I love flying; I don’t want to be a bus driver. I envision flying as flying 50 ft. of the deck and doing aerobatics. Into the 20’s flying was all about being daring, I still have that daring mentality when it comes to flying. I want to be a test pilot, a stunt pilot, a bush pilot; I want to be paid 30,000 dollars a year pulling negative 12 G’s almost blacking out saying “Haha I didn’t crash today.” Maybe someday I might switch majors to homeland security because I want to find out ways to keep us safe every day, because I want a future for all of us.”

-Jeff Icker, Army Private First Class