News: Engineer follows in father's footsteps by serving country
Story by Spc. Jazz Burney
JOINT COMBAT OUTPOST SHIR KHAN, Afghanistan – How do having a father who served in the Army, two cousins who died firefighting during 9/11, and a knack for building stuff influence what a person does with their life?
For Spc. George Holloman they led him to serve his country as a U.S. Army combat engineer.
Holloman was born in 1991, the same year his father retired from the military as a non-commissioned officer.
Growing up in Hazleton, Pa., Holloman was surrounded by three things: his father's previous Army life, firefighting and building with his bare hands.
"My dad had this old coal furnace that he would always be banging on, making it work. He would always involve me with building projects around our house," he said.
By age 11, he told his father of his desire to join the Army. His father responded by grabbing an old pair of his Army boots, a rag and shoe polish, and told him "clean these boots then," Holloman said laughing.
"It took me many years before I passed the inspection from my dad. I was always exposed to this type of Army life growing up though," he said.
In 2001, two of his cousins were killed firefighting and trying to save others at the World Trade Center. Holloman volunteered as a firefighter in the summer of 2008 and credited the experience to cultivating his abilities to build and work well with others.
A year later he raised his right hand to join the Army.
After finishing his advanced individual training as a combat engineer, Holloman received his first duty assignment: Baumholder, Germany with A Company, 40th Engineer Battalion. This caused his dad to laugh because this was the same unit he served with years before.
"My dad just chuckled and said ‘Good luck with the weather up there,’" Holloman said.
Earlier this year, while conducting a patrol in Afghanistan, his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. Holloman was in the gunner's turret during the explosion.
"I would always curse the gunner's restraints, but push-come-to-shove it definitely kept me in the vehicle," he said.
Holloman injured his shoulder during the blast. He and his comrades walked away with injuries and a new found respect for each other.
"When that happened, we all, without hesitation, began to treat each other inside the vehicle. We made sure we held together as a team, even in those circumstances," said Pvt. James Cortez, a San Antonio native, now a combat engineer with the unit.
Holloman’s unit is scheduled to redeploy to Germany in early 2012.
"What I have learned is that regardless if we are completing details around our [combat outpost], or on the road here, these guys are like my second family. This was by far the easiest choice for me to make, serving my country. Definitely the easiest," he said with a smile.