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Why I Serve: Family Relationship Strengthens Soldier's Dedication

By Spc. Kelly Hunt, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT HOOD, Texas, Dec. 20, 2004 – "It's a family tradition," Army Sgt. Ronnie Fisher said. "Every generation in my family has served in the military and honestly, I wanted to be like my dad."

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Army Sgt. Ronnie Fisher served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from March to December 2003. Photo by Spc. Kelly Hunt, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Fisher's ties to the Army began at birth. Born a military "brat," he and his three siblings were raised with military ways under the direction of their father, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Fisher.

"My dad spent 24 years in the Army, and I don't know anyone who loved the Army more than he did," the Fayetteville, N.C., native said. His enthusiasm for his career rubbed off on Fisher, who said joining the service was in his blood and an easy decision because of his family's ties to the Army.

Fisher, 26, joined the Army in 1999. The transition from being a military family member to an active-duty soldier was uncomplicated, greatly due to his father's attitude, he said.

"My dad was my command sergeant major when I went through basic training, so my first day of basic, my dad was right there with me," Fisher said. "While most parents are worried about what their kids are doing, my dad was laughing at me getting 'smoked.'

"He would come into the barracks to do his rounds, and every time I was there. He would send a drill sergeant upstairs to smoke me the whole time he was there," he recalled. "So I would know my dad was there without even seeing him."

The support Fisher received from his father during his military career has been constant. "My dad was a guest speaker at my basic-training graduation and he was there when I graduated air assault school, even though he was still in the Army," Fisher said. "My dad's been with me almost every step of my military career, and even though he's out of the Army now, he still pushes me.

"He still acts like a sergeant major," Fisher said. "He still talks about how it was worth it."

Fisher said his time in the Army has benefited him both professionally and personally. It has offered chemical training he couldn't have received anywhere else and brought satisfaction Fisher said he can't imagine getting from any other job.

"I specialize in (nuclear, biological, chemical) protection in combat situations and supply smoke for decoys or concealment," he said. "We do recons to locate chemicals used against us, but the part I like the most is the fact that I assist in getting chemical equipment over to Iraq for soldiers that are there.

"I just want to do my part to make sure everyone is safe," Fisher continued. "My sister's there now, so it makes me feel good to help her out as much as I can from over here."

Iraq tours are something Fisher's family is getting used to, he said. Fisher served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from March to December 2003; his younger brother James, 25, stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., redeployed from Iraq in March; and his sister, Cassandra, 21, is currently there serving as a chemical specialist.

"My mom, Stacey, has averaged two kids in Iraq at a time," Fisher said. "She's very proud of all of us, and honestly, that's my greatest satisfaction from being in the Army -- making my parents proud."

Fisher's perseverance has been put to the test through the challenges of Army life, he said. "When I went to combat, you have your ideas of what you can handle, and before that, you always wonder how you would react to different situations," he explained. "The Army has put me into those situations and I've handled them well."

Though Fisher has faced hazardous and trying conditions during his Army career, he said the greatest reward is the friendships he has gained over the years. "The most amazing thing is the amount of friendships I've made in the Army," he said. "I still keep in touch with many of them even though we're in different parts of country now.

"To see that there are friendships that last a lifetime, that's a great feeling," he said.

(Army Spc. Kelly Hunt is assigned to the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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