LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – It is said that soldiers do not go to war because they hate the people who fight in front of them, but because of the love they have for the ones they left behind.
“If I can do my job right, when my kids walk across that stage to receive their high school diploma and a recruiter asks if they want to serve. They can say, ‘Thanks, but my dad has done enough serving for all of us,’” said Sgt. Tad Randell, a combat medic with 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan.
If you ask Randell, a Midland, Texas, native, about his vocation or the country he serves, you will not get a word of discouragement, but rather a sense of pride. It is no surprise considering he has a special military history running in his bloodline.
“My initial inspiration to join the military came from my grandfather who served in the Air Force as part of the Berlin Airlift Operation, said Randell. “He inspired me to believe that every able body should enlist once in the military. If everyone enlisted, then people in this country would be more appreciative and proud of a country that, I believe, God allowed them to be born in."
When he was old enough, Randell attempted to enlist in the military, but was turned away.
As luck would have it, he would get another opportunity years later while working as a manager at a restaurant located next to a military recruiting station.
Day after day, the recruiters bombarded Randell with the idea of serving in the Army. It was not until Randell pondered his future and decided what he wanted to do.
“I was at that age where I thought to myself ‘Is this what I really want to do for the rest of my life?’”
After much meditation, Randell decided to take the road his grandfather traveled.
“I looked into becoming a medic because a family friend, a corpsman in the Navy, told me about the amazing things he’s done in his career,” he said. “I also had a wife and son to think about, so I chose something in the medical profession because I thought it would be easier to find a job in the civilian world.”
Though friends were doubtful he would be able to survive the demanding challenges that lay before him, Randell was determined to complete his goal.
At first, Randell only wanted to fulfill his initial term and return to civilian life. Then a turn of events changed him when he deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I learned a lot from that experience,” said Randell. “After doing what I had done, and seen what I’ve seen, you start to put things into perspective. Words such as honor, virtue, and pride, I’ve learned, still have tangible meaning. You see it heavily represented in shows and movies about soldiers who served in World War II. That same pride is still alive today.”
Randell said a source of his pride came from his multiple deployments.
“It was slow, but there was progress being made for these people. I witnessed the Iraqis slowly take command, control and pride in their country, and I’ve also seen the same gradual results everyday here in Afghanistan.” he said.
As for the flag he proudly wears on his sleeve, Randell spoke about how lucky he was to be serving a country that grants everybody the opportunity to aspire to whatever goal they desire.
Throughout his travels, Randell was frequently reminded how blessed he was to have the luxuries and freedoms his country provides.
“I have traveled all over the world, but there is nowhere on this planet I would rather be than in the United States. Where else can you find a place where a man can start off with nothing and end up with everything?” said Randell. “That’s the American dream.”
Ultimately, Randell wishes his service to his country will be enough to make certain his wife and children are safe. He believes in the notion that soldiers who have been fighting since 1775 have helped to preserve the welfare of this nation and its people.
“I’ve made the commitment to lay my life down on the line for my country and I’ll be doing that until the day I die,” he said. “I believe this country was founded on the principles of God. I could’ve been born anywhere else, but I was blessed to be born in the United States and be known in history as an American soldier.”