Soldier lives dream of serving in military, honors father
June 20, 2012
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (June 16, 2012) - It's not every day that someone gets to live out their dreams and goals, but for Spc. John Liddle Jr., a member of the 822nd Movement Control Team of the New York Army National Guard, the opportunity to do so is now.
A native New Yorker who calls Long Island home, the 42 year old father of one is getting the chance to do something he's always dreamed of, serving his country and honoring his late father.
The son of a Vietnam veteran, Liddle is a 3rd generation Soldier as his grandfather fought also fought in World War II. He said that their selfless service is what led to his wanting to join the military.
"I've always wanted to know what my father went through, and overall just thought that joining the military was my calling," said Liddle. "I'm proud of everything my father did and what our country called him to do. We volunteered for this, but he was drafted."
Liddle's dream of becoming a Soldier began during his time as a young boy mimicking his father. He explained that during this time, he spent countless hours playing with toy Soldiers wanting to be just like the guys on the war movies and TV shows.
After years of working as a welder and playing semi-professional football for the Southern Tier Warriors, Liddle's finally got the opportunity to fulfill his dream.
At 36 years old, Liddle enlisted in the National Guard as a motor transport operator, the same military occupation specialty as his father.
Affectionately known as "Lids" by teammates and friends, Liddle said that his experiences with sports helped him persevere while dealing with dyslexia, amongst other issues that prevented him from enlisting earlier in life. He compares most of his life experiences to football and feels that his dedication is what has led to him being in his current position.
"When I get up in the mornings, every day to me is game day," said Liddle. "We fight every day in our lives inch by inch, yard by yard until we reach the goal line."
After years of not being able to deploy, he's finally getting the opportunity by serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom working as an inspector for the 401st Army Field Support Brigade's ammunition abatement mission.
Even though this mission calls for Liddle to operate mainly at Bagram Airfield and not on the roads as his military occupation specialty might suggest, he still feels as though he's making a difference in Afghanistan.
"We inspect every vehicle that enters our yard and check for ammunition and anything else that shouldn't be there," said Liddle. "We make sure our battle buddies are safe."
Liddle admitted that while he's proud to be serving, he hit a definite low point when his father passed away just two weeks into his deployment. But even with his circumstances, his father's words have stuck with him.
"Not long before my father passed he told me to make sure I come home to him and my mother," said Liddle. "He said that he was proud of me and what I was doing. Those words have stuck with me."
Liddle said that his future in the Army looks bright as he plans to reenlist later in the year and possibly reclassify as an infantryman. He also plans to continue his career by becoming an active-duty Soldier.
And while he feels he has many years of football left in him, he said that he may soon plan to retire while jokingly admitting that many of his teammates once played on a peewee team he coached years ago.
"I like to think of myself like the Brett Favre of the semi-pro's," said Liddle, referring to the retired National Football League quarterback.
Overall, Liddle said that everyone has been supportive of his dream to include his current unit. He admitted that every now and then he gets down when thinking of his father, but that everyone rallied around him to help him get through.
"I have my days that I really miss my father, but my officers and NCO's here encourage me," said Liddle. "But I know that he's proud of me for all that I've done."