Essay Written by Arianna Reiley of West Creek Middle School
As part of the Clarksville Kiwanis Club’s Memories of Service and Sacrifice Project’s “Interview a Veteran Contest”
Soldiers pledge their lives joining the military, knowing that they can expect the worst at war. They join to serve their country to their fullest extent. They join, knowing that they will do their country proud. One of those soldiers includes Mitchell Messer, an E6/Staff Sergeant in the U.S Army. Everybody knows the risks of joining the military. These risks include missing your family, getting hurt, or even worse, seeing your friends die around you. These are all risks that Mitch has taken.
When asked about why he joined the military, he had an elaborate answer. “I felt that it was my duty as an American.” Well, what does he mean? “Our ancestors founded this country on certain beliefs, and I felt it was my duty to share in the responsibility to uphold those standards and beliefs,” he answered.
When you look into Mitch’s eyes, you can tell that he is a proud soldier. “I am extremely proud to stand up as one of America’s elite. The brotherhood that comes with being a soldier is one that no one will ever know unless they experience it themselves. The fact that you have a complete stranger that you train with, live with, eat with, and grow up (as a soldier) with, who is willing to give his life for the greater good and beliefs that this great country was founded upon is one of the greatest values that a soldier can enjoy. I am proud to stand by and salute the flag of the United States of America,” he says. I don’t know about you, but that says a lot about a soldier.
A soldier goes through changes in the military. They make lots of sacrifices, and they think about a lot when they’re at war. When asked about his thoughts when he is overseas, he answered: “I mainly concentrate on the mission at hand. It is an unbelievable feeling to know that you are directly involved with providing freedom to a society that has never experienced anything like it. The people that we have freed from tyranny have never experienced the freedoms that we have here in United States. They are seeing the benefits of the freedom that we enjoy.”
Mitchell has also made a lot of sacrifices as well, though. “I have spent a lot of time away from home. In the past sixty-eight months, I have spent thirty-seven of those in a combat zone. I missed the entire first year of my daughter’s life. She was born six days before I deployed and I did not make it home until after her birthday the following year.”
Although never being severely hurt in war, Mitch has lost hearing in his left ear due to roadside bomb explosions. There are many more things about being hurt in war, though. You can be scared to death, and that could be hurting you. “The scariest thing about war, to me, is the thought of my kids growing up without a father. We all know the risks that come with the job when you raise your right hand and swear to defend this country against all enemies, foreign or domestic. I won’t run away from a fight that our citizens ask me to fight. I’ll be the first one to volunteer to lead the charge, but the thought of my wife and children crying over a casket with a flag draped over it scares the hell out of me.”
Even though there are bad times in the war, they aren’t always scary. When asked about good times in the military, this is what Mitch said, “There are way too many to mention. For example, my first deployment to Iraq, my LT and I were sitting outside the Node Center drinking our coffee when we started to have mortars dropping on us. They were about 150 meters away from us, and we didn’t even break stride in conversation. I was only twenty years old at this time. My LT looked at me and said ‘Mitch, did you ever think when you were a kid that you would be sitting in a combat zone, having incoming mortars not far away, and not even move or break stride in conversation?’ I also remember fishing in one of the lakes that Saddam Hussein had dug out. Sitting around our campfire, making dinner with anything that we could find. Fried Spam isn’t all that bad.”
When you talk to a soldier, you know that they are proud. They stand proud for our country, facing many challenges daily and nightly. They face death, injuries and pain. Mitchell Messer, SSG in the U.S. military, is one of them. He is a brave, courageous, and daring piece of my heart.