From the Bear to the Eagle
July 28, 2012
FORT CHAFFEE, Ark. -- From "The Cold War, Operation Joint Endeavor and Operation Iraqi Freedom … I served in them all," said Cpl. Vitalis Dubininkas, 3rd Platoon Team Leader with 316th Mobility Augmentation Company, 844th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, here at Operation River Assault, July 24, 2012.
Nicknamed "Dubi" (pronounced Doo-Bee) by his fellow engineers, he has worn many hats or helmets in this case. Spending the better part of his adult life in various military roles, Dubi has seen parts of the world that many Americans can only read about.
The 40-year old combat engineer lives in Chattanooga, Tenn., with his wife and four children, the youngest of which was born in the U.S. The Dubininkas family moved from Lithuania to America in 2001 when Dubi's wife won the USA Green Card Lottery, allowing her and her family to become permanent residents of the U.S.
Prior to his current position as a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Dubi had honorably served in his native country of Lithuania, and in the army of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Drafted into the Soviet Army at age 19, he started his military career as an armorer and worked his way up to the rank of staff sergeant within two years. He also served as a drill sergeant there until the fall of the Iron Curtain.
"In 1993, I joined the Lithuanian Army when my country gained independence from the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War," Dubi explained. He served eight years in the Lithuanian Army and worked his way up to the rank of Warrant Officer 2, equivalent to the rank of master sergeant in the U.S. Army..
Dubi said that three years after moving to America, he wanted to join the military to serve the country that gave him and his family a chance at a new life. He said that he was so used to the military lifestyle, that it seemed like the right thing to do.
"Armies everywhere have comradery and I just like that style of life where you can meet new friends and gain professional skills. Teamwork is the key and it's everywhere," said Dubi.
Dubi joined the U.S. Army National Guard in 2004 as a Cavalry Scout. When his unit changed to a Military Police unit in 2005, he was not yet a U.S. citizen and was unable to get a security clearance. For this reason, he was left with the choice of becoming either a cook or a mechanic if he wanted to stay with the unit. Dubi had no interest in either MOS, so he chose to transfer to the Army Reserve where he became a carpentry and masonry specialist.
In 2010, his company Executive Officer, 1st Lt. Lax Oren, informed him that he was preparing to build a new company and offered him the opportunity to transfer if he was willing to change MOS to combat engineer. With the rapport he had built with Oren, Dubi said he was more than willing to do so.
Dubi is training here with his unit, the 316th MAC, and gaining valuable, hands-on experience through a variety of objectives at Operation River Assault. During the exercise, the unit has spent time on several ranges, conducted route clearance, demolitions and urban explosive breach training, as well as strengthen team building skills.
Dubi says he couldn't be more proud of the training experience his Soldiers have picked up during their two weeks at Fort Chaffee.
And with an extensive resume as an NCO in three separate armies, Dubi feels that he has a lot to bring to the table to benefit his new unit. Not the least of which is the level head he has gained over years of experience, he said.
"I think, as you get older you become calmer and less hot-headed," said Dubi. "Learning to slow down and not over-react helped me become a better leader."
He is confident that his team is trained and ready to deploy to accomplish any mission set before them.
"I love it! It's a high-speed unit. The NCOs are very professional, the commander (now, Cpt. Oren) and XO are great, I love all those guys," says Dubi. "The 316th is a really good example of a strong unit in the strongest army in the whole world.".