FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Twenty-three years, nine months and 14 days. That's the total time spent in service by Tom Dosier, a retired master sergeant, infantryman and former Fort Bragg paratrooper whose career included two tours in Vietnam and one deployment with the XVIII Airborne Corps during Operation Desert Storm.

Dosier joined the Army in 1966 at the age of 20, from his home state of New Jersey. He willingly joined at a time when men his age were being drafted. His first duty station was Alaska and, in 1968, he went to Vietnam for the first time.

After completing his tour, Dosier left the military. He said the choice seemed right at the time, but when he got home, there were few people who could share what he experienced and the majority of his friends either joined or got drafted. So, he quickly rejoined the Army and went back to Vietnam. After finishing that tour, he got out again, but then thought better of it when he realized he had already served six years and just had 14 more to go. Through it all, he remained an infantryman.

"I was an infantryman my entire career; I served as a recruiter and an EO (equal opportunity) NCO, but I was always infantry. I liked infantry. You got to travel, always see something different and the camaraderie and the friends I made there is something I will always carry with me," said Dosier.

He said the life of an infantryman is one that remains the same throughout the generations of the military.

"The job of infantry Soldiers doesn't change much," he said. "You're always training and preparing for something. The rules of the Army may change - we used to not be able to stop in fatigues to fill up with gas. If we did, we'd get an Article 15. We couldn't to the PX during the day. But the mission doesn't change, especially the mission of an infantry Soldier."

While the mission may never change, the equipment and technology the Soldiers use may change slightly.

"There have been a lot of changes to weapons and equipment since I was in. I remember hearing someone talking about the new equipment being lighter, but the Soldiers have to carry more of it. One hundred pounds of heavy equipment is the same as 100 pounds of light equipment when you're having to carry it," he said.

On Fort Bragg, Dosier served with the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment; as the first sergeant of Company A, 1st Bn. 504th PIR; and as the S-3 operations NCO with XVIII Abn. Corps.

He said being a paratrooper and serving in Vietnam shaped who he is today.

"There's a theory that your personality is fully developed by the time you turn 18, unless you have a significant emotional experience that changes it. War is a significant emotional experience," said Dosier.

"It's one of those things that will stick with you and affect what you think. Vietnam did that to a lot of people and that is what war is doing to a lot of Soldiers today."

Dosier said it is important for veterans to not turn their backs on newer vets.

"People tend to judge your status as a veteran based on the number of casualties, that doesn't matter. These young Soldiers are doing a difficult job. When a Soldier is living the war or sees someone next to them die, it has the same effect on you. It doesn't matter if 25,000 people are killed or just one, it changes you," he said.

The former paratrooper makes sure today's Soldiers know that someone cares for them and is willing to listen, sharing experiences, memories and knowledge. He is a member of the local 173rd Abn. Brigade Association. The 173rd, stationed out of Vicenza, Italy, is one of the many units he was assigned to during his career.

The association adopted 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. and 3rd Bn., 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regt., both currently deployed to Afghanistan. They folded pocket flags for the paratroopers of the 503rd and participate in the Heritage Days for the 319th AFAR, which was the artillery unit for the 173rd Abn. Bde. in Vietnam.

The 173rd Abn. Bde. Association meets the fourth Tuesday of every month, at 7:30 p.m., at the 82nd Abn. Div. clubhouse on Johnson Street. Dosier invites anyone interested to stop by.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16