News: Legacy of service: a military history
Story by Spc. Nathan Thome
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Every family has a legacy they can call their own, through their bloodline or family traditions. The Ziegler family, in particular, has a family history tied to the military and can trace their legacy back to World War II.
Quinten Ziegler took his oath of enlistment Jan. 25, 2013, continuing his family’s legacy and following in his father Serge Ziegler's footsteps.
“My dad grew up in Germany during World War II and was a German citizen. During the war, him and his brother were recruited, not by choice, into the Hitler Youth,” said Serge, a wheeled vehicle mechanic, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “It did come out that him and his brother escaped and were able to get out of the program. They were being chased for a while, so they hid out in different towns and villages. They started basically taking food from the U.S. military, and then a lot of the soldiers found out what was going on and actually started helping them out with feeding them."
“The Hitler Youth thing I didn’t even know about until three years ago when my son sat down with my father and asked him how it was like growing up in Germany during World War II,” Serge added. “My grandfather, so my son’s great grandfather, was actually a German prison guard in Germany at the beginning of the war. So, even I’m learning things to this day about my family history that I never knew about, so it’s pretty interesting.”
Serge’s father and his two brothers originally immigrated to Canada to escape the war, then, through work processes, came to the U.S.
“I was born in 1967, I lived in Canada myself until I was five years old, and the work my father was doing in Canada, the company opened up a plant in the U.S., so that’s when we moved to the states in 1972 for work for my father,” said Serge. “We all moved to the states not knowing how to speak English, so we were all thrown into the school system at that point and had to learn everything from scratch. When we came to the states, that’s when my brothers and I got interested in the military, and eventually came into the military ourselves.”
Quentin enlisted in the Army as a cavalry scout, following his father, who enlisted under the same military occupation specialty.
“I signed up in 1984, so I left for basic training in the summer of 1985. I was on the delayed entry program for almost a year and went to Fort Knox, Ky., and became a cavalry scout,” said Serge. “Quinten always talked about wanting to do something like this, and I never really saw him going through with it, but as the years have gone past, he’s been talking about how he wants to go in the Army to become a sniper and whatnot, and he tried to talk to me more about it.”
Quinten will be a second-generation soldier in his family when he leaves for basic training after graduating from high school.
Brig. Gen. Darsie Rogers, deputy commanding general for support, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, gave the oath of enlistment to more than 100 new recruits, and promoted outstanding soldiers to the ranks of private second class and specialist.
“To hear that the general was going to be there to swear them all in, and then to hear that he was going to get promoted to private second class by the general was just outstanding, and it shows just how much the military does care about our future soldiers,” said Serge.
Quinten said he didn’t know he would be promoted at the ceremony and that it was a complete surprise when it happened.
“It felt good getting promoted. It’s one of those things you don’t expect it, but when it happens, it feels great,” said Quinten. “Getting promoted is mostly about accomplishing something not only for myself, but for the people around me. I can step up and be a leader.”
Quinten said that when he was growing up, learning about the meaning of the seven Army values was something that just clicked.
“My uncle joined the Army, my mom wanted to, but didn’t. My dad’s in right now, and he’s stationed at Fort Carson, and both of his brothers served,” said Quinten Ziegler. “It’s kind of been one of those things. It’s all I really know.”
When he told his parents he was enlisting, Quinten received support and encouragement from his family.
“My parents have always supported me in anything I do, even if they didn’t agree with it, they supported me, so they weren’t surprised when I told them I wanted to join the Army,” said Quinten Ziegler. “Their opinion about this was ‘I’m proud of you. You’re doing a good thing.’ My mom always told me I was saying hooah when I (was born).”
Serge expressed his pride in his son and what he expects before too long.
“I actually see him outranking me before too long. Within five years, I’m hoping to see sergeant first class, then we’ll see who outranks who when I retire,” said Serge.
Serge said coming back into the military after a 20 year break in service had a lot of influence on his son. He said his son started asking him what he did when he was a cavalry scout.
“I told him the different ins and outs of it, and I told him it was a lot of field time. You go to a lot of ranges. He’s really interested in weapons and things like that, and I told him he was going to get that in cavalry scouts. You can get that in the infantry, but in the cavalry scouts you get a little bit more diversity, they have their sniper platoons like that, so I think that will be a better program for him,” Serge said.
Serge believes that his integration back in the service brought his son’s interest in being a sniper to the foreground leading to his enrollment in the Future Soldier program.
“I think it did, it put him closer to what the military is actually about, so him seeing me come and go from the house, and being in uniform, and being in my class A’s, seeing me in that uniform I think drew him more to it," Serge said. “ He started researching a lot more and looking into it, and actually went through with the whole enlistment process. So I think it definitely had an impact.”
Unity in service has brought father and son together, forming a bond forged through quality time and experience with the military.
“It’s brought us back closer together, he’s always been a gamer, so he’s always been up in his room playing video games and that kind of thing, and now with the Future Soldier program, what they do is on weekends sometimes, they’ll do pick-up football games and have little special events, like they had a little pancake breakfast where they brought out a field kitchen. And I’ve gone to all these events, any events that I can go with him, to get closer to him, it has brought us closer together,” Serge said. "The recruiters were actually surprised to see a father, that’s in the military, show up with their son and help out. I mean, I’m all for it, whatever I can do, I’m trying to teach him now about how to get promoted and what to use and what schools to look for once he gets in. So I’m pushing him a little bit.”
Having a son follow a father’s selfless service can bring a sense of accomplishment and excitement for any parentage.
“Great sense of pride, I’m going to do whatever I can to help him,” Serge said. “At this point I look at him as a son and a soldier, and as I treat my soldiers today, I try to push them along and get them to where I’m at, and I’m doing the same thing with him. Hopefully, he can progress and be at my level.”