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Why I Serve: Love, Pride and Honor Drive Two Soldiers

By Tam Cummings
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT HOOD, Texas, Aug. 19, 2004 – "I love my country. I love my family. Serving makes me feel like I'm doing something good for my family," said Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Prater. "It makes me feel like I'm doing something with my life, something I can be proud of."

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Capt. Terri Bradley administers the re-enlistment oath to Sgt. Charles Hall, far right, and Staff Sgt. Jesse Prater at Fort Hood, Texas, recently. (Courtesy Photo)

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

Prater said he always wanted to join the service because he grew up with an uncle who was an Army Ranger. "He always talked about how much he loved the service," Prater, a light-wheeled mechanic with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 546th Personnel Services Battalion, 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Corps Support Command, said recently.

A single father, the Dallas native said, "The people I work with in the motor pool have become family."

Prater re-enlisted recently with Sgt. Charles Hall, another battalion soldier. The two men took their oath and then celebrated with a helicopter ride around Fort Hood.

Like Prater, Hall said he always wanted to join the Army. "I feel it's an honor to serve my country. I feel everybody should serve. It would give younger people more responsibility, maturity and character," he said.

"Knowing my wife, Mary, and my family are safe, because of what I do," Hall said, gives him great satisfaction, even though he admits it is difficult to spend time away from his family.

Both men said professionally, the Army is teaching them how to be leaders. "There are all kind of job skills to learn, not just mechanics," Prater said.

"It's the experience of leading others, learning how to deal with different situations that's important," Hall agreed.

Hall and Prater said they recognized the importance of their jobs more fully after deploying to Operation Iraqi Freedom. "We provide the power in the field when we are deployed," Hall said.

"And as a mechanic," Prater said, "the Army doesn't move without the vehicles. We keep the vehicles serviced, so we can help the battalion accomplish its mission."

Their experiences overseas have left stories for both men to share with their children. For Prater it was his first sight of the pyramids of Egypt. For Hall, it was the 18-inch spiders in Kuwait.

(Tam Cummings is news editor for the Fort Hood Sentinel.)

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