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|An up close and personal interview with U.S. Army Veteran and Togetherweserved.com Member:|
SSG Nathan Pike US Army (Ret) (1988-2009)
WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?
The greatest influence on my decision to join the military was from my own family's prior military service. My Father (David W. Hostettler) served in the Minnesota Army National Guard in the same Battalion that I would eventually end up serving in. My Grandfather Hostettler served during World War II in the South Pacific.
My second biggest influence was my Father (Richard L Pike) who did not serve but his younger Brother (David) served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era. My Grandfather Pike served in the Navy during World War II and never left the states.
I have two Great-Grandfathers that served during the First World War. One was a Marine and the other served in the Army with the then 82nd Infantry Division. My Great-Grandfather who served in the Army during WW I died in the early fifties from being gassed during the Great War. My other Great-Grand father who served in the Marine Corps never talked of his service and I was given his World War I Victory Medal after his death in early 1984.
I remember a group of very old men wearing hats of the World War Veterans organization and giving my Grandmother the flag from her father's casket. My Grandmother spoke briefly to the old men saying that their group was getting smaller and smaller each year.
My mother's side has family who served during both World Wars on the German side and the American side. She also has one member who served during Prussian War and was given a bronze award of some type. We still have the certificate framed and hanging at my Grandparents house. That relative served in the Prussian Cavalry.
BRIEFLY, WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?
My career path was simple enough, service in the Infantry. I enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard with First Minnesota or Co B, 1st BN-135th INF of 47th Infantry (Viking) Division, at age 17 while still in High School going through basic between my Junior and Senior year of school. I went the Benning School for Boys at Fort Benning, GA.
After my AIT the following summer I returned home and attend regular drill weekends while going to college full time. After failing out of college I enlisted Active Duty Army and left for West Germany at the end of the Cold War serving in Mannheim with HHC Allied Mobile Force (Land) or Allied Command Europe. I served as Machine Gunner on the M-60 and a tracked vehicle driver on the M577 Command track. I attend French Commando School and earned my Expert Infantry Badge while in Germany.
I did a PCS move to Fort Campbell, KY serving Co B, 4th-101st AVN as a Door Gunner and then going back down to the line to Co B, 2nd-327th INF of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division.
After my ETS in spring of 1994 I returned my Guard Unit I started out in. The Unit changed to Co B, 2nd BN-135th INF (Mech) of the 34th (Red Bull) Infantry Division. I was tracked Driver on the M113 and a Vehicle Commander. I also served as a Team Leader and Squad Leader and finally for a few months at the end a Rifle Platoon Sergeant.
I never deployed while Active Duty on Field Training Exercises all over Europe and Fort Campbell along with stop at Fort Irwin, CA and Fort Chaffee AR. I did deploy with Army National Guard twice to Kosovo for KFOR5B and KFOR 9. I also did a deployment to Afghanistan as an ETT or Embedded Tactical Trainer. I have served as a Fire Team Leader to Platoon Sergeant for leadership.
DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
I did participate in Combat Operations in Afghanistan. I also participated in Peacekeeping Operations in Kosovo twice.
In Afghanistan, I was involved in direct combat operations during the National Parliamentary Elections in September of 2005. I also saw small skirmishes that lasted only minutes but at the time seemed to last hours.
Serving in Kosovo I was out in sector during the 2004 St. Patrick's Day riots of 17 March when most of our NATO Allies were closing their gates and we were going out to deal with riots. Again in 2008 in Kosovo during the Independence declaration from Serbia we were present in the Serbian minority enclaves to keep the peace.
I am happy to have been part of closing a chapter in Balkans history. I am also proud to have served in Afghanistan with the first parliamentary elections after Afghanistan was liberated.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
The memory that most stands out for me are all the great Soldiers and leaders I had the opportunity to serve with. America is a great melting pot of many people from everywhere in the world. I am proud to have served with them. I admire their willingness to serve Army and America.
OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
The most meaningful of awards and badges I have earned for me would be three separate things.
The first would be a Certificate of Achievement I got during Basic Training. I served as Assistant Platoon guide for over half the cycle and I realized that if I did good things and worked hard I would get recognized.
The other two things I am most proud of would be my Combat Infantry Badge and my Expert Infantry Badge. Two quintessential badges for an Infantryman. Nothing says Infantry more than either of those badges. A solider can change his MOS from Infantry to any other MOS but the Kentucky Long Rifle with blue enamel background and/or a silver wreath stays with the man forever.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
This question is very hard to answer. I am guessing like most Soldiers there is more than one person. I have three people I will mention and why they still have an impact on my life.
First is retired Colonel Roderick Haworth who when I enlisted into the Minnesota Army National Guard was our Battalion Commander of 1st BN-135 INF (First Minnesota). After I had completed some paperwork in the Recruiter's office I was leaving the armory and I noticed this giant of a man in BDU uniform. He had a CIB, Parachutist Badge, a Scuba Badge and at that time he was still wearing a foreign award of the Vietnamese Parachute Badge. I walked into his office (his door was open) and I introduced myself to him and thanked him for service in Vietnam.
Unknowingly to me at that time a Soldier shouldn't just walk into his Commander's office. But he took the time and talked with me for over an hour. He showed a genuine interest in whom I was and why I had chosen the National Guard. I am still in contact with him today and at my retirement party he showed up and told the story of a seventeen year old who walked into his office and talked to him.
Another person who had a great influence on me was my first Squad Leader Sgt Michael Martinez. We were together in Germany when I was on Active Duty. As a young Soldier, Sgt Martinez always took the time to explain things and show me the right way to Soldier. If I needed corrective action he would get down and push with me. We both got stronger until I got smarter. Get strong or get smart. I tried to get smart.
Sgt. Martinez was one a few NCO's who lived in the barracks with all of us Junior Enlisted Soldiers. He taught us to work hard and to embrace the suck when out in the field. He also taught to us how be crafty in the field and live as comfortable as possible for being grunts. During EIB testing he stayed with us all the way to the finish and even walked the twelve miles with us, encouraging us to continue the march. He was a Soldier's Sergeant. He took care of his men well before Army values came out.
Finally the last person to have such great influence on me is LTC Taube Roy. LTC Roy was my Team Chief in Afghanistan with the ETT's (Embedded Tactical Trainer) Unit. He inspired everyone around him. He wanted only the best from everyone around him. When first arriving in Afghanistan he would make the new guys (me) do the missions with the Afghan Army. He would take me to Elder meetings along with my Afghan counterpart and introduce us as the go to people for the Elders. He had only few months left in country before he would rotate home and he wanted us to be ready to take the lead when he left. If would have asked us to go to the gates of hell I would have gladly answered with 'Yes Sir! And can the Second Company take the lead'.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
I was stationed in Germany and our Platoon Leader was from West Point and did not have an appetite for humor. He was pretty straight forward and almost a robot. Now I am NOT saying anything negative about West Point, I am saying this individual had a different view and socialization on life.
My Squad Leader and I were called to see the Platoon Leader. My Squad Leader is half Latino and half German. His is Dad a retired MSG and his Mother is a German citizen.
My Squad Leader and I both liked to joke about Hogan's Heroes. We walked into our Platoon Leader's office and feeling in a particularly joking mood we did a mock hail Hitler to the Platoon Leader. The Platoon Leader not looking up from his desk and now shaking his head back and forth and fearing we had upset our Platoon Leader we quickly snapped to attention and awaited a barrage of anger. To our surprise, the Platoon Leader looked up to me (me being the heavier of the two) and in a most convincing voice of Colonel Klink said 'Schultz, bring me Colonel Hogan!' I did an about face and left looking for Colonel Hogan. My Squad Leader quickly followed my cue and to this day we never did figure why the Platoon Leader wanted to see us.
I have many more or funny things that happened in the Army but this memory of my dry humored Platoon Leader sticks out.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT JOB?
The profession I followed after I left the Active Duty Army was working in a local manufacturing business making cabs for John Deere and Caterpillar. I stayed with factory for over fifteen years before leaving and going back to college.
The company I worked for is very supportive of hiring Veterans. They supported me through three deployments with my Guard unit but my knees going bad for a variety of reasons I decided to quit and use the GI Bill that restarted for me when the deployments finished. I went to one full year of college getting much better grades than the first time I went to college.
Last spring I applied for and was hired on as the County Veteran Service Officer for my county in Minnesota. I enjoy working for Veterans and their families. I serve a mostly rural county in southeast Minnesota. I have met many veterans from World War II to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have met many Veterans who have done some amazing things during their time in service and returned to a quiet life of farming or working in local businesses. I am always amazed at those who have done extraordinary things and remain quiet. I have met two fighter pilots who flew in World War II and one was a POW in Germany. I have also met a former Air Force pilot who flew in both Korea and Vietnam who retired to quiet country life in southeast Minnesota. I also met a Navy World War II veteran who was on TWO ships that were sunk in the south Pacific. I have met many Vietnam veterans who served in the Army or Marine Corps and did extraordinary things during their tour and then returned home to farm. Quiet un-assuming men who till the land.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I belong to the big three of Veteran service organizations, The American Legion, The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and the Disabled American Veterans.
Being a member of any Veteran Service Organization helps serve two things: one is the helping your local community realize the sacrifices made by Veterans to our great Country and the other is having a strong political lobby at both the state and Federal level to help with the continuation of Veterans Legislation.
Being a member of these organizations crosses generational lines. A World War II veteran can talk with a new veteran of the current wars and they can share and bond with their experiences of service to our Country. I also believe that as a Veteran I can still serve by being active within a Veteran Service Organization.
The real bottom line is also to help let the community NOT forget the sacrifices of veterans for the Country.
HOW HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?
How has the military influenced my thought pattern and approach to life and work? The biggest thought I hold is that things can always be worse. Count your blessings with work and pleasure. No problem is too hard to solve. Keep going forward and you will succeed.
I have also been influenced by taking care of Veterans. I now take care of Veteran's and their families. Every new Veteran is a new mission for me. I have also been taught to show genuine concern for people and their problems.
Maybe the biggest thing I use is never give up on a project or work assignment and never be afraid to ask for help or guidance if you do not understand all the instructions for your project or assignment.
One of the small things I keep from the military is my house needs to be clean and orderly. That is no small task with four teenage sons.
I also expect that when a person gives their word that they will follow through with what they said. If that person does not keep their word I have a tendency to be less likely to believe in what they say. Sometimes I may hold people too accountable for their actions.
I also have a good work ethic and have never been afraid to get dirty or get down into the dirt. I have the confidence to stand up and speak in front a group or crowd of people and speak with authority on the whatever subject matter that is the topic of discussion.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT ARE STILL SERVING?
Never be afraid to ask for guidance or help with any mission or task. ALWAYS take care of your Soldier's ALWAYS!
Take advantage of any and all training and learning opportunities. Never be afraid to stand up and take charge.
Remember the bottom line is mission first and Soldiers ALWAYS.
Meet the Commanders intent and everything else is golden.
When you are in new place or a foreign country take advantage of learning about the area you are in. Remember if you are in a foreign country the people of that country may act differently and view the world differently than you do. Treat the locals the way you would want to be treated if a foreign Army was in YOUR town!
Army values, remember honor and integrity!
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU MAINTAIN A BOND WITH YOUR SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?
I have been able to re-connect with those I served with from years ago.
The best thing about TWS is looking at all the pictures that people post when they were in the service. The long hair is the best! I love looking at photos from the eighties and earlier because everyone had hair!
I also enjoy researching fellow Army Brothers and Sisters and viewing their page.
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