Noncommissioned officer's career takes a presidential turn
February 13, 2009
By Anna Staatz
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- When Staff Sgt. Randy Hubbard joined the Army in 1994, it was to be a tanker. He never imagined his path in the Army would include a trip past the presidential reviewing stand on inauguration day 2009.
Hubbard worked as a tanker from 1994-2000, spending the entire time in Vilsek, Germany. He was medically discharged after his hand was pinched while working on a tank.
"I lost a lot of the sensation in my hand because of that injury," he said.
Hubbard didn't leave the Army willingly. For five years, he fought his medical discharge until it was finally overturned.
"I love what I do," Hubbard said. "There is nothing better to me than being a Soldier."
He re-entered the Army in 2005 as a transportation management coordinator and was stationed at Camp Darby, Italy. He deployed to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division in 2006. After returning from deployment, Hubbard got the first stateside assignment of his career: Fort Riley, Kan.
While in-processing at Fort Riley, Hubbard heard a briefing from the former first sergeant of the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard, 1st Infantry Division.
"He said they had a platoon sergeant slot and because there's not a lot of platoon sergeant jobs available in my MOS, I thought coming here was an excellent opportunity to get some leadership time," Hubbard said.
Dealing with horses and training Soldiers to ride for many of the parades, competitions and public events the color guard participates in is a far cry from the duties of most Soldiers. The unit is one of the most often-seen Army units in the Midwest.
The unit learned in late 2008 that it had been accepted to participate in the parade following the presidential inauguration in January 2009 and quickly began preparation.
Saddles and sabers were polished and the unit had several special practices to help acclimate its horses to an urban environment with lots of noise and people. Fourteen of the unit's Soldiers rode in formation during the parade.
"I am extremely proud of each one of my Soldiers, their perseverance under the circumstances and their dedication," Hubbard said of a very long and cold inauguration day. The Soldiers' day started at 3 a.m. The parade - scheduled to start at 2 p.m. - was delayed by several hours. The unit passed the reviewing stand about 7 p.m.
"These guys were cold and hungry and they just did what they needed to do, and they looked good doing it," Hubbard said.
It's hard to miss the pride Hubbard has in his Soldiers when he talks about them.
"As an NCO, the greatest reflection of what I do isn't in me," Hubbard said. "It's in my Soldiers. If they succeed, I am successful. If they fail, it's my fault."
Hubbard has about six months left in his time with the mounted color guard. Once that time is up, he hopes to be able to take a slot in the Headquarters Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division, and deploy.