Those who Serve: Army veterans share their experiences – from Colorado to Germany – as young recruits – News – Ellwood City Ledger | Instant News

Sergeant Doug Schroth of Ellwood City joined the military right after middle school. His Army career stretched from Fort Carson, Colorado, abroad in Germany. Schroth said his tour of duty serving his country was the best four years of his life.

ELLWOOD CITY – When Doug Schroth graduated from high school in 1979, he knew where he was going and what he was going to do.

While a high school student, Schroth enrolled in the Army’s Pending Entry Program and chose to become a heavy equipment and train operator at Fort Carson in Colorado.

“I joined the Army because I had the best program for heavy equipment and as a teenager I went to Colorado with my parents and I knew I would like it there,” he said recently.

At Fort Carson, Schroth completed basic training and advanced individual training with heavy equipment. He knows he made the right choice.

As part of the construction brigade, Schroth built a helicopter pad at a nearby base, as well as a parking lot in maintenance facilities for tanks and light trucks.

In half a year at Fort Carson, his biggest project was to improve the tank training area with moving targets and improved systems. This change was needed because the Abrams M1 tank became a modern armored tank. Because new tanks are bigger and heavier, construction brigades are assigned to build new roads and systems to accommodate them.

While in Colorado, Schroth experienced his first helicopter ride, but also something rare and more interesting.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) which provides aerospace, air sovereignty and protection warnings for North America is headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base near Fort Carson.

When a landslide blocked the road, Schroth was sent to clean it. As a thank you, the commander got a special permit that allowed Schroth to visit a facility that was never seen by the few people who didn’t work there.

The large command center was carved from the solid granite of Mount Cheyenne.

When Schroth arrived wearing his uniform and with identification, he had to wait while an officer called Washington, D.C., for permission before he could enter through a 4-foot thick double-steel door.

“I was escorted by an unassigned senior Air Force officer. We entered a locked airtight decontamination room. It was arranged like a campus with a different building, and each building was placed on a giant spring, big enough for a man to hold. and all utilities are in a flexible cover, “he said. “It’s a mini city that can hold 1,000 people for a month, including food.”

The mountain is so strong that it can withstand direct nuclear attack. In it there are three lakes; one containing diesel fuel for generators and two with drinking water.

“It was truly amazing. It was very exciting. I am sure they did not show me anything important, but everywhere I saw officers, many officers,” Schroth said.

The next post was two years in Germany, which he described beautifully with lots of flowers including many houses with window boxes.

“There is absolute respect for everyone. You can leave your toolbox all night and no one will touch it,” Schroth said. “There were things about Germany that I didn’t realize until I got home and saw all the rubbish along the streets and streets and remembered that there was nothing in Germany. It was very neat and clean.”

When stationed there, his parents visited and together they toured Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France.

One of the medals Schroth received was an Army Award Medal given to each member of the Armed Forces who distinguished themselves with good achievements.

Even more important is the lifelong friendship formed with Bobby Hixson of Virginia when they were roommates during training in Colorado. And after Schroth left for Germany, Hixson was sent there and they were roommates again.

This is a lifetime bond. They kept in touch and once a year Schroth visited Hixson, who now had cancer, and his wife.

Schroth considered remaining in the Army, but at that time President Ronald Reagan cut off the military, so there was no incentive to re-register.

When Schroth returned home, he used his Army training and became a long-distance tractor-trailer driver for several years. He now works in an industrial wood shop.

When Schroth’s daughter, Jourdan, married Brian Kolch, Schroth learned that he and Brian’s father were stationed in Germany at the same time and place – only one barrack away. However, they had never met.

“Going to services out of middle school gave me the opportunity to meet different people, see new things, real opportunities,” he said. “Being in service is the best four years of my life.”

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