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    From small town to service

    Iowa Army National Guard Soldier assists local business in COVID-19 testing

    Photo By Cpl. Samantha Hircock | 1st Lt. Chad Pickering, public affairs officer assigned to Task Force East with the...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Samantha Hircock 

    135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    “I’m just a guy from small town Iowa, you know,” said 1st Lt. Chad Pickering, a public affairs officer assigned to the 67th Troop Command’s Task Force East.

    Despite Pickering’s assertion that he's unremarkable, his achievements have been quite impressive in both his military service and civilian community engagement.

    He comes from a family in which military service is not uncommon. Pickering’s parents met while his father was an Army first sergeant stationed at Camp Long in South Korea, where his mother is from. His father then left the military and returned to the states to start his family.

    “I was born in Philadelphia, but we moved to Iowa shortly after I was born and I grew up in Adel,” said Pickering.

    He spent the formative years of his life similarly to many rural Iowans. In high school he enjoyed sports and even made the all-conference team as a receiver after his senior year playing with the Adel-Desoto-Minburn Tigers.

    “I enjoyed playing football because it taught me how to fail and then how to retool and fight through adversity at a young age,” said Pickering.

    Taking his can-do attitude out into the world, Pickering enlisted in the Iowa Army National Guard as an infantryman right out of high school, knowing that it would bring opportunity and educational benefits.

    Being born after his father had left the military, Pickering said that he remembers his father less in a military role than as, “being the local mailman who would wear his ‘Army Retired’ hat on the weekends.”

    Still, after his dad passed away unexpectedly in 2010, shortly before Pickering shipped off for initial training, he reflected that he’d wished at times that he could’ve called his father for advice.

    Pickering nevertheless excelled through basic and advanced individual training, his father serving as a motivation to him both in and outside of his military service.

    One of the achievements Pickering is most proud of is that he earned his wings as an Airborne Soldier right after AIT.

    “Nothing really compares to jumping out of a plane,” said Pickering.

    After taking the leap to join the military, he kept up the momentum by attending the University of Iowa and joining the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps while there.

    It was there that Pickering met his longtime friend and periodic colleague—then his ROTC senior mentor—Capt. Thomas Bentley, company commander of Company A, 224th Brigade Engineer Battalion.

    “At the University of Iowa, Chad participated in Iowa Hawkeye Caucus, where he and a few other ROTC cadets showcased what it means to be a Hawkeye at the State Capitol,” said Bentley. “He was exceptional in communicating and interacting with representatives about the leadership skills he has acquired through Iowa Army ROTC and how the tangible benefits from his training and education would be readily applied to the workforce after his commissioning and graduation.”

    Through UI’s cultural understanding and language proficiency program, Pickering was able to go to Kosovo where he visited the U.S. Embassy and his class even got to have a sit down with Ambassador Tracey Jacobson.

    After his experience in Kosovo, Pickering developed a passion for public policy and achieved his degree in international relations and political science.

    Commissioning within the engineer corps, Pickering spent three years as a full-time technician in the Iowa National Guard Government Relations Office working on legislative initiatives for the Adjutant General.

    In that capacity, he maintained open dialogue with elected officials – at the local, state, and federal levels.

    “His ability to communicate the role and positive impact of the citizen-Soldier toward advancing state and national interests truly is a reflection in itself,” said Bentley. “So, whether he is advocating for Iowa Guardsmen and women or leading a platoon of Soldiers, one will immediately gather that he is someone who will always put others before himself – someone that defines selfless service and commitment to the betterment of the organization.”

    Pickering didn’t stop there, and has recently moved to the public affairs field after attending the Public Affairs Qualifications Course at the Defense Information School.

    “I just like to say ‘yes’ to everything and see where it takes me,” said Pickering, with less an air of pride than that of gratitude for the opportunities he’s had access to. “So far, through the National Guard, I’ve been able to go to Kosovo, the U.K. and Cyprus. I didn’t even know where Cyprus was before being told that I was going through the Military Reserve Exchange Program and I would be training with the British Royal Engineers.”

    Pickering explained that The National Guard has been flexible in allowing him to study abroad, and that the Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Program scholarship also covered his tuition for the program since the University of Iowa is a partner program.

    “The military is not just about service through combat, there’s a lot of opportunity,” said Pickering.

    Next to any guy from anywhere, Pickering has done a great deal.

    “Chad is someone who has leveraged windows of opportunity and transformed them into something substantive and meaningful, not only for himself, but crucially for the state of Iowa and United States at large,” said Bentley.

    Pickering has plans to stay in the field of international and public affairs civilian-side with a dream of becoming a foreign service officer, but he said that—since there are always new opportunities popping up for him through the Guard—he’s just seeing where opportunity takes him.



    Date Taken: 05.26.2020
    Date Posted: 05.27.2020 15:19
    Story ID: 370740
    Location: IOWA CITY , IA, US 
    Hometown: ADEL, IA, US

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