4:11 | Her father was a Green Beret, but when Gail Taylor Black expressed interest in joining the military, he was skeptical. Shortly after he passed away, she joined the Texas National Guard. She got encouragement from her aunt, who cared for her children while she trained.
Keywords : Gail Black Dayton OH North Carolina Fort Bragg Green Beret Vietnam women Killeen TX Fort Hood National Guard
The drill instructors had never had women recruits before. They were a little unsure how to handle it, remembers Gail Taylor Black. She did six years in the Texas National Guard, then decided to go regular Army. She was disappointed that she was not called to Desert Storm, but then her unit was alerted to go to Bosnia.
Gail Taylor Black had a mentor at the 440th Signal Battalion, her staff sergeant, Regina Johnston. Eventually, she got her job and was promoted to corporal while deployed. This allowed her to move into the NCO tent. What an improvement!
She was in the personnel section, but it was a signal unit, so Gail Taylor Black learned how to splice wire while preparing to deploy to Bosnia. One perk in the unit was the ability to call home, but the separation from family was still trying, especially the lack of information from back home.
She knew it was for real when the order came down. "Lock and load!" Gail Taylor Black was on her way into Bosnia with a signal support unit. She was amazed at the poverty of the place, and it gave her a new appreciation for her life at home. She also saw the effects of PTSD, before she ever heard the word. Part 1 of 2.
Gail Taylor Black describes the toll on her and her family during her deployment to Bosnia. Serving in a war zone leaves many soldiers with a lot of family problems, and her family was no different. Part 2 of 2.
Gail Taylor Black decided to stick it out for a 25 year Army career. Now a contractor for the National Guard, she feels like she is giving back to the military that did so much for her. She fondly remembers the sergeant who helped her get through the readjustment to civilian life.
Gale Taylor Black wants everyone to remember that Bosnia was a real war, not just a peace keeping operation. She reflects on what it's like to be a woman soldier in a war zone and she contrasts the abilities of the service members of today with those of thirty years ago.
During his first deployment to Iraq, Robert Walton saw a gradual change in the populace. The people became less hostile and more welcoming, sharing meals and information on insurgents. It was still very dangerous, with convoys being hit with IED's every day.
Justice details a too-close-for-comfort interaction with a vehicle-borne IED. The IED came as a complete surprise and the entire F.O.B. fell into what Justice could only describe as “chaos” immediately following the explosion. She suffered several injuries and had to work with the nurses back in Bagram and depend on the friendship of comrade Colonel Ellison to come back from the injuries.
His second tour was coming to a close when Robert Walton was approached by a sergeant major from a California National Guard unit that was coming over to Iraq. Would he be interested in extending with them? His knowledge of the Iraqi roads and his combat experience were highly valued.
He was a troubled youth, but Robert Walton thought his life might turn around in the Army. His GED wouldn't get him on active duty, but the National Guard was an ideal starting point. He was a talented mechanic, so he came in as a heavy equipment mechanic with an engineering company.
He extended in Iraq to help a green unit get on it's feet, agreeing to two months. Robert Walton ended up staying for a year. He had a job to do. When he returned home, it was only a few months before he decided to volunteer yet again. The civilian world did not have the structure and discipline he craved.
At the induction center, the men were told that some are going to the Navy, some to the Army. When the sergeant got to Stan Seaman, he laughed and said, "You know where you're going!" After basic training in Bainbridge, the next destination was Pensacola.
Why would you volunteer for a fourth combat tour? For Robert Walton, one reason was the illogical world of civilian hiring. He possessed many qualifications and certifications, but they weren't good enough because they were in a military setting.
Stan Seaman was an aircraft electrician on the USS Tarawa. In addition to those duties, he was assigned as a firefighter during emergencies. The ship performed anti-submarine patrols off the East Coast, along with a sister ship, each taking half the area. There was no shooting war, but the work was still dangerous.
During Robert Walton's first deployment to Iraq, the soldiers' hands were not yet tied by the government. They were freely able to eliminate threats. He lost his first friend in a Bradley rollover accident. He was in the vehicle and it was his first big scare.
Going from the National Guard to active duty was difficult for Robert Walton. First, they wouldn't count his Guard experience toward promotion. Then, there was an abusive NCO. He had some good training experiences in Egypt, but, when his term was up, he went to work for Halliburton KBR.
His ship was preparing for a NATO cruise, but Navy cutbacks led to the discharge of all personnel who were drafted. That meant that, after 21 months in the Navy, Stan Seaman was returning home. That was fine with him since he had a great job at Grumman, where he went on to a long career.
In Robert Walton's unit, there was a soldier who was held back from deploying to Iraq for medical reasons. He appealed and was able to join the rest of the outfit in Iraq. He wasn't even there a week when tragedy struck. For Walton, the war just got personal. (Caution: Graphic Descriptions)
The power plant was supposed to be clear, but when Robert Walton was walking through, he heard voices nearby and they weren't speaking English. It turned out to be not much of a threat. What was a real threat in Iraq was the huge amount of munitions stockpiled by the insurgents to use in IED's.
Being home after a year and a half in Iraq was good, at first. But Robert Walton wasn't ready to deal with civilian life, so he secured a place in a different National Guard outfit and did an individual mobilization from home, joining the unit in Iraq.
He put his mechanical expertise to work in Afghanistan for Halliburton KBR, but Robert Walton returned to the Army with the Georgia National Guard and prepared to deploy to Iraq. He had grueling desert training in California, and then encountered an NCO who set his mind straight.