Face of Defense: Seventh-generation Soldier Reflects on Heritage
By Army Sgt. Christopher Calvert
1st Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
FORT HOOD, Texas, Sep. 13, 2013 For many service members, joining the military is a choice to serve their country and better their own lives. For one 1st Air Cavalry Brigade soldier, it’s a choice that runs deep in his bloodline for more than 200 years.
Army Sgt. Robert George III, a signal support systems specialist with 1st Cavalry Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade performs signal support operations at Fort Hood, Texas, Sept. 6, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Calvert
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Sgt. Robert George III, a signal support systems specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division, is no stranger to the military. It’s been a part of his family’s heritage since his fifth great-grandfather fought in the Continental Army.
In fact, the Tucson, Ariz., native has had members of his family fight in most major armed conflicts since the 18th century, including the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Word War I and Operation Desert Storm.
Cpl. John Albright, George’s fifth great-grandfather, fought during the Revolutionary War in Valley Forge and the Siege of Yorktown. Albright was taken prisoner twice, once by the British for 11 months after the fall of Fort Montgomery, and once by Native Americans during the fall of Fort Stanwix, where he was forced to carry heavy loads to Canada before receiving his freedom in a trade.
After Albright received his liberty, he immediately returned to service to continue fighting for the Continental Army, George said.
“There’s no way for me to feel more proud,” George said. “The sense of pride I have in knowing the patriotism I developed is not just based on a single act of terrorism, but it’s ingrained in the fabric of my family history.”
Despite growing up with military roots, George originally was unable to enlist in the armed forces due to a medical disqualification; however, at 16, he felt a calling from a higher power, which would lead him down a different path after high school.
“When I was 16, I became very religious and felt a desire to go into ministry,” George said. “I did a year of junior college and then a year of seminary. Afterward, I became an interim youth pastor in Tucson, which was very enjoyable, as it gave me the opportunity to help people.”
George would reach a turning point in his life shortly after becoming an interim youth pastor when he traveled with his ministry team to ground zero after 9/11 to provide emotional support to victims and family members affected by the tragic attacks on that fateful day.
It was then that George’s sense of patriotism took over, and after conflicts in multiple countries began, he decided to try his luck again at entering the military.
“My former roommate from seminary contacted me after getting discharged from the military, and I ended up moving in with him in California,” George said. “I began thinking it was maybe possible for me to join due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so I gave it another shot.”
George visited his recruiter in 2004 in hopes of fulfilling his desire to serve. His mother’s 20-year career in the Air Force and participation in Operation Desert Storm influenced him to attempt to enlist as an airman, he said.
He qualified to join, but after all the paperwork was complete, he was informed he would not be shipping out to initial training for 12 months. It was this delay, coupled with a lack of funds, that made him decide to pursue another branch of service, he said.
“When I was told it would be a 12-month wait, I immediately grabbed my paperwork and went straight to the Army recruiter next door,” George said. “The Army was able to offer me not only a job that I could utilize skills in after exiting the military, but also a duty station of choice while shipping out within six weeks. With all of that being said, my mom still pokes fun at me for not joining the Air Force.”
After graduating from advanced individual training, George went on to be stationed in California, South Korea and Washington before ending up here in January 2011 with the Air Cav.
He deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom for a year with the 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st ACB, in June 2011. This deployment would make him a seventh-generation warfighter in his family, a feat George said makes him proud.
“I’m extremely proud of the nine years of service I’ve had so far, and especially of my time in Afghanistan,” he said. “It feels great to build upon my family’s lineage of serving this great nation.”
Marie George, George’s wife and a Salisbury, Mo., native, echoed her husband’s patriotism.
“I’m very proud of his service,” Marie said. “He chose to serve his country during a time of war. That alone takes a lot of physical and emotional strength, and it also shows a lot of character. To build upon that, he’s using his educational benefits and balancing being a new father to our 6-month-old. He isn’t just serving to honor his family’s history. He’s doing it for himself, too.”
Army 1st Sgt. Fernanda Redwine, HHC first sergeant and Henderson, Texas, native, said George has helped the company excel since becoming a member of the “Warlords” in January.
“Although he has only been with us nine months, his contributions to the [signal and communication capabilities] and the brigade have been nothing short of excellent,” Redwine said. “He plays a key role, … being only one of two communication security custodians for the entire brigade. “This NCO is always motivated when I see him, never late for duty, very enthusiastic, and most importantly, he is family-oriented first,” he added.