Third time's a charm for one Arrowhead Soldier
November 22, 2013
Editor's Note: This is the first in an ongoing series about Arrowhead soldiers. Its intent is to provide our readers the opportunity to know the essence of the Arrowhead Brigade - our soldiers - in a more personal and friendly manner. This month's story focuses on Staff Sgt. Steven Siddall, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of S6 Communications for 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment.
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Many Soldiers who come into the Army are "one and done." That is, they do their initial tour-of-duty and get out. Some of these Soldiers reconsider that decision, though, and come back in citing a number of reasons. One such Arrowhead Soldier, Staff Sgt. Steven Siddall, a Los Angeles native, enlisted in the Army three times before he decided to stick around.
"Third time's a charm; sometimes you just don't know what you want," Siddall said.
Siddall is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, "Tomahawks," 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. He is currently in his 15th year in the Army.
Siddall was born in the late 1970s in Los Angeles and was largely raised by his grandmother until she passed away when he was 12.
"I went to stay with my dad, but he was a long-distance truck driver, so I would get dropped off at families for months at a time," Siddall said of his upbringing. "The best way I could describe my childhood is dysfunctional. No authority, do what I want, come and go as I pleased."
Since childhood, he had his sights set on joining the Army mostly because of a popular children's cartoon he watched growing up.
"GI Joe," Siddall said. "I was watching GI Joe as a kid and it looked really cool. From the time I knew what GI Joe was, I knew I wanted to be a Soldier when I grew up."
That almost didn't happen when he dropped out of high school a month into his senior year.
After talking to Army recruiters, Siddall realized that he wasn't going to get in without a diploma or GED, so he went back to school and ended up graduating early. "I joined six months before I would have graduated originally."
When he joined the Army, he still retained many of the troubled aspects of his former life. Having had little leadership growing up, Siddall wasn't used to the discipline, which he said turned him into one of those Soldiers who can be difficult and challenging.
This started to change for Siddall during his first duty assignment with the 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, out of Fort Campbell, Ky., where he was paired with two non-commissioned officers who took an interest in making him a better Soldier.
"They taught me a lot about how much I didn't know," he explained. "I couldn't handle simple tasks, simple problem-solving, or show up to work on time. I didn't know my job at all. Through patience and a lot of corrective training they ended up turning me into a Soldier. I probably would have failed at the Army if they didn't have patience with me."
Even though he had grown as a Soldier during this time and had started to turn his life around, he still ended up leaving the Army after his initial four year tour. He then moved to a town about 70 miles away from Fort Campbell. After searching for a job for some time and being unable to find one, he decided that he was ready to give the Army another try and reenlisted.
It didn't last long.
"I deployed to Iraq," Siddall said. "After that I was like 'OK, I think I've had enough,' so I got out again."
Even though Siddall was out of the Army for the second time, the Army still wasn't out of him.
After spending six months as a stay-at-home father, Siddall realized that he was starting to miss the Army, so he went back to the recruiters for his third and final reenlistment.
"I've been doing it ever since," Siddall said.
Since coming back in, Siddall has been stationed in Korea, Fort Hood, Fort Drum and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
"You get to do something that matters instead of some miniscule job somewhere and they provide for my family," Siddall said.
"The thing I like the most is the Soldiers," he said. "I like teaching them how to be leaders. I like teaching them how to do their job."
Siddall still runs into Soldiers that don't want to learn or succeed in the Army, and they remind him of his younger days.
"I was one of them," he said. Now, thanks to the NCOs who helped turn his life around, Siddall takes the lessons that worked on him and passes them on to the next generation of Soldiers.
"The Army fixed me," he said. "I was on a fast road to nowhere if I didn't come in. If I would have had less understanding NCOs, I probably would have been chaptered out of the Army and back to square one."
While Siddall gives a lot of credit to the leaders who helped shape him, he doesn't forget to thank the most important person in his life.
"I'd have to say it was my wife that turned me around completely," he said. "It was like an on-off switch. One day I was a jacked up Soldier, the next day I was married and on top of my game. Like, no kidding, the next day. I was never late to work again, never got in any trouble again."
His wife, Yvonne, said the Army has made a big difference in their lives.
They are now the parents of four girls.
Although it's been a bumpy road, Siddall plans to see his "lucky" third enlistment through to the end and retire with plenty of Army stories to tell his daughters.
"As a Soldier and father, he's always been on point," she said. "He tries to achieve beyond what he thinks is achievable, which makes him better as a man and a Soldier."