Reservist Marks 40 Years of Service
(August 1, 2009)
Army Brig. Gen. Chris Leins, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa deputy commander, presents Army Sgt. Maj. Samuel Stoner with the Legion of Merit Medal for exceptionally meritorious service during his 40-year career of service, July 21, 2009.
CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti, July 28, 2009 –
Richard Nixon became the 37th president of the United
States, gas cost 35 cents per gallon, the New York Mets won
the World Series in five games over the Baltimore Orioles,
and Catharine Zeta-Jones, Brett Favre, Renee Zellweger and
Jennifer Aniston were born. The year was 1969.
It was also the year Army Reserve Sgt. Maj. Samuel Stoner,
Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa's joint
intelligence chief and senior enlisted advisor, was drafted
into the military. Stoner said he never dreamed of making a
career of the Army when he first got drafted.
"After serving my first two years on active duty, I just
wanted to put the military behind me and get on with life,"
Stoner said. "Instead, I felt I had something more to
offer my country and my fellow
soldiers, so I decided to "continue my first
six-year obligation in the Army Reserve.
It wasn't until after the end of his
six-year obligation in the reserves that he decided to make
the Army a career. |
"My plan was [to be promoted to] E-8 at 20 years and then
punch," he said. "Here I am 40 years later; who would have
ever thought? Now I am looking forward to kicking my feet up
and laying back in my recliner at 'Fort Living Room, Pa.'"
The Chambersburg, Pa., native credits his long career to his
first brigade command sergeant major at Fort Riley, Kan.
Each time the command sergeant major saw Stoner, he would
stop and say hello or ask how his day was going.
"Even though I was intimidated, ... I always respected him for
his genuine concern for the soldiers and I thought, if given
the chance, I would like to emulate that same sense of
concern," Stoner said.
Stoner is neither the first nor the only person in his
family to serve in the military. His father served in the
Army during World War II and fought in the Battle of the
Bulge. He also has a son who enlisted in the Marine Corps
Reserve and was mobilized during Operation Desert Storm.
"Even though my son didn't make the military a career like I
did, just knowing he was willing to make the sacrifice makes
me proud of him for the time he served his country," he
Stoner added that his older brother, Barry, a retired Army
master sergeant, was – and still is – an inspiration.
"My brother has always been an inspiration and an example
for me to follow throughout my military career," he said. "I
have tried to call my family at least once a week since my
deployment, but I've always made a special effort to call
him just to get words of encouragement from him. He has been
a true brother to me in every meaning of the word."
Stoner said he has seen quite a change in the military in
his 40 years of service, especially in attitudes and
professionalism from the Cold War and Vietnam War era to
Desert Storm and the present day.
"The Vietnam War created a different kind of professional
through the will to survive a war, unlike the wars the U.S.
fought in past years," he said. "We fought a war with valor
to come home with less than a hero's welcome.”
Today's servicemembers, he added, have the advantage of
technology that allows them to be better equipped and
educated to meet the modern challenges. They also have more
support on the home front, he said.
“Today, we find soldiers fighting on multiple fronts and
returning home to welcome home ceremonies and cheering
crowds across the entire country," Stoner said.
Though he's proud of his 40-year career, Stoner said, it
hasn't been about him.
"To me, it has always been about taking care of soldiers,"
he said. "A true leader can never give enough of himself to
a soldier who has given of himself so freely to his
Stoner received the Legion of Merit for his 40 years of
service. After serving nearly a year here, he will return to
his home unit in St. Louis before retiring to his home in
Article by Army SSgt. Lesley Waters|
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse Awalt
Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa public affairs office
Special to American Forces Press Service
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