This week’s 11 QUESTIONS comes from our friend John Wilson. A New York City native (born in the Bronx) John enlisted in the Army in 1981 and served until his retirement from the Army National Guard in 2015. He currently works at the New York Stock Exchange as a Business Analyst.
John also continues to serve his country and community through his involvement in a number of organizations: as an EMT with the North Shore Ambulance Corps and the New York City Medical Reserve Corps, as an CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor for the Staten Island Heart Society, and as a volunteer with NYC CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and Team Rubicon.
- WHY DID YOU JOIN THE MILITARY?
At the time I enlisted I already had a somewhat decent job I was comfortable with, so it wasn’t for income purposes. What comes to mind was the opportunity to serve my country like others before me and to learn a new skill, specifically a path to become a US Army Medic.
- DO YOU HAVE VETERANS IN YOUR FAMILY?
My father served with the U.S. Army in World War II. My brother and uncle were both in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam, and two of my cousins also served in the Army, one as a Medic, and one in Transportation.
- WHERE DID YOU ENLIST?
Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, New York
- WHAT WAS YOUR PRIMARY MOS/JOB?
During my military career I have qualified for the following and served in the capacity of the following MOS’s (some designations have changed during and after my retirement): 71G- Medical Records Specialist (1 year); 91B – Medial Specialist (Medic) (15 years); 42R- Bandsperson- Saxophonist (14 years – Almost all military musicians are combat deployable).
- DO YOU REMEMBER THE NAME OF YOUR FIRST DRILL INSTRUCTOR?
Staff Sergeant Dooley, Fort Jackson- South Carolina
- WHAT WAS THE WORST THING YOU ATE IN THE MILITARY?
I’ve never had to train or serve in the jungle or other remote area where food was scarce, so overall, I’ve had some pretty bad tasting MRE’s which after some time started tasting good when I found myself seriously hungry.
- WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE DAY IN THE MILITARY?
My unit was under mortar attack overseas and I was assisting in the treatment of one casualty, a U.S. Soldier with an open chest wound. This Soldier was from Guam, God Bless him. I thought the next mortar round was going to take us and everyone around us out.
- IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO YOUR LAST DAY IN THE MILITARY, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Leave your full time job, transfer from the part-time New York Army National Guard to the full-time Regular Army, once accepted into the Physician Assistants Program. Over time go through the US Army and become an Army Physician.
- DID YOU HAVE ANY VETERAN MENTORS?
When I was a newly graduated Medic, I served with a National Guard Infantry Unit. There was a SSG Seggarra who was a fantastic experienced Medic who I was assigned to work with. He had all the qualities and professional skillsets you read about but he performed them practically in the treatment and handling of the troops. His courtesy, professionalism, care and wisdom made an immediate impression on me and still does.There is also 1SG Leslie Saroka who is with the 42nd Infantry Division and served with the 1st Ranger Battalion. He was my 1SG overseas with the 42nd ID and for years before and after that up until my retirement. He gave true meaning and understanding to the word Leadership. When I think of him I think of how Leadership is supposed to be carried out, I was fortunate enough to learn firsthand from him as one of his Platoon Sergeants. Top Saroka is The Real Deal.
- WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT AS A VETERAN?
As a Platoon Sergeant in Iraq, realizing all of the Soldiers who served under me made it back home to their families, while honoring the Fallen. I respected and cared for them all and it was a proud feeling to realize they truly appreciated and were grateful for my leadership, trust and respect for them. When we arrived Stateside, they surprised me with a Plaque with our Platoon picture on it, which is a memory I will always cherish.
- WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE/LEAST FAVORITE MILITARY-THEMED MOVIES?
FAVORITES: Wind Talkers, Lone Survivor, 12 Strong, When We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Platoon, American Sniper. LEAST FAVORITE: The Hurt Locker.