FORT CHAFFEE, Ark. – From “The Cold War, Operation Joint Endeavor and Operation Iraqi Freedom … I served in them all,” said Cpl. Vitalis Dubininkas, Team Leader, 3rd Platoon, 316th Engineer Mobility Augmentation Company.
Nicknamed “Dubi” (pronounced Doo-Bee) by his fellow engineers, he has worn many hats or helmets in this case. Spending the better part of his adult life in various military roles, Dubi has seen parts of the world that many Americans can only read about.
Dubi, 40, a resident of Chattanooga, Tenn., along with his wife and four children, the youngest of which was born in the U.S. The Dubininkas family moved from Lithuania to America in 2001 when Dubi’s wife won the USA Green Card Lottery, allowing her and her family to become permanent residents of the U.S.
Prior to his current position as a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Dubi had honorably served in his native country of Lithuania, and in the army of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), explained Dubi.
Drafted into the Soviet Army at age 19, Dubi started his career as an armorer and within two years, he worked his way up to the rank of Staff Sgt. it was at this time that he served as a drill sergeant until the fall of the Iron Curtain, he said.
“In 1993, I joined the Lithuanian Army when my country gained independence from the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War,” Dubi explained. Serving eight years in the Lithuanian Army, he worked his way up to the rank of Warrant Officer 2, the equivalent to Master Sgt. in the U.S. Army, he explained.
Dubi said that three years after moving to America, he wanted to join the military to serve the country that gave him and his family a chance at a new life. He said that he was so used to the military lifestyle, that it seemed like the right thing to do.
“Armies everywhere have comradery and I just like that style of life where you can meet new friends and gain professional skills. Teamwork is the key and it’s everywhere,” said Dubi.
Dubi joined the U.S. Army National Guard in 2004 as a Cavalry Scout. When his unit changed to a Military Police unit in 2005, he was not yet a U.S. citizen, so he was unable to get a security clearance. At the time, this left him with the choice of becoming either a cook or a mechanic if he wanted to stay with the unit. Dubi had no interest in either MOS, so he chose to transfer to the Army Reserve where he then became a carpentry and masonry specialist.
In 2010, his company Executive Officer, 1st Lt. Lax Oren informed Dubi that he was preparing to build a new company and offered Dubi the opportunity to transfer if he was willing to change MOS once again to combat engineer. With the rapport he had built with Oren, Dubi says he was more than willing to do so.
The 316th MAC is participating in River Assault 2012 and Dubi says he is hoping the unit will deploy soon. During the exercise, the unit has spent time on several ranges where they have been able to work on strong team building skills, which Dubi says is his biggest focus during this mission.
Route clearance, demolitions and urban explosive breach training are the focal training points for the 316th MAC and Dubi says he couldn’t be more proud of the training that this new unit has done as part of River Assault 2012.
Having an extensive resume as an NCO in three separate armies, Dubi feels that he has a lot to bring to the table in his unit. Not the least of which is the level head he has gained over years of experience, he added.
“I think, as you get older you become calmer and less hot-headed,” says Dubi.
He feels that learning to slow down and not overreact helped him become a better leader.
Dubi says he is looking forward to deploying with the unit, feeling confident with his leadership, believing they can accomplish any mission set before them.
“I love it! It’s a high-speed unit. The NCOs are very professional, the commander (now, Cpt. Oren) and XO are great, I love all those guys,” says Dubi. “The 316th is a really good example of a strong unit in the strongest army in the whole world.”