CHIÈVRES AIR BASE, Belgium – Three U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Soldiers renewed their service commitments to the Army at the Chièvres Air Fest June 25, 2022.
Staff Sgt. Devon Bowman, operations noncommissioned officer in charge at USAG Benelux – Brussels; Sgt. Christopher Arcia, traffic management and collisions investigator at Chièvres Air Base; and Sgt. Christian Reim, military police patrolman at Dülmen Tower Barracks, Germany, reenlisted with the Army as part of the Air Fest’s opening ceremony.
Col. James Yastrzemsky, commander of USAG Benelux, thanked the Soldiers for sharing their special moment with the attendees and addressed the audience before commencing with the Oath of Enlistment.
“The U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force since 1973,” he said. “We’ve had young men and women raise their right hand and swear their allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, to stand committed to our values and our ways of life, and it’s always inspiring every time we get to take part in one of these ceremonies.”
“I’m looking at some Best Warriors, a senior NCO – so that’s exactly who we want to reenlist, to stay in our military. So thank you!”
Although backgrounds and motivations vary, common themes of service, Family and being a part of something bigger than one’s self resonated with each Soldier who rededicated themselves to their careers in the Army.
“My dad was in the Army – not for too long – but I remember when I was little going on base, so it was always kind of there,” said Bowman. “I guess that’s where it might have started.”
Bowman joined and started his career initially in artillery. In 2013, he looked at separating to pursue his long-term career aspirations in law enforcement. Bowman’s wife became pregnant around the same time and the opportunity for reclassification became an option, shifting Bowman’s decision to remain in the army.
“I like the morals of the army and the structure,” he said. “You’re protecting your friends, your Family and everybody in America – I feel like it’s a good thing to do and organization to be a part of.”
Bowman, the most tenured of the three Soldiers, has served over eleven years. He is on his fifth duty assignment and in the midst of preparing to permanently change station this month. He shares some advice for those considering the Army.
“Research the job that you want, pick something you actually like and don’t do it based of someone else’s experience.” Bowman said. “Do what you want to do and something that you love to do. Re-classing isn’t always an option, and at the end of the day, you need to like what you do.”
It is advice that has served Bowman well, reenlisting “indefinite,” doing a job he loves.
“I’m going to keep going; it’ll take me all the way to 20 years.”
“I wanted to be a law enforcement officer straight out of high school, but lacked the college needed and realized that wasn’t my path,” said Arcia. “I joined the military for college, experience and (to work in) law enforcement.”
Arcia explained that within his Family he is a first-generation Soldier. Seeking independence after high school and the opportunity to achieve his goal of working in law enforcement, he enlisted and left for the Army a week after his 18th birthday.
Seven years later, Arcia counts his wife and current and past leaders as inspiration for his continued service.
“Doing twenty years in the military – I didn’t always see that as my future – but my wife, she thinks I can do great things in the military.”
As a military police Soldier herself, it is fair to assume Arcia’s wife, Staff Sgt. Julia Dittman, understands his job firsthand. Dittman is currently assigned to Allied Forces North Battalion at SHAPE, and according to Arcia, “she’s kicking my butt, she’s ahead of the game and actually in Missouri right now graduating her advanced leader’s course.”
“I’ve also had multiple leaders that have instilled confidence in me, reassured me that I am capable of doing great things,” Arcia continued. "I want to push myself to my limits and be the best I can be.”
Looking to the future, Arcia hopes to transition his career within the Army to fitness training or nutrition. Until then, Arcia leans on his wife, his leaders and his personal motto: Am I okay?”
“I ask myself one question, ‘Am I okay?’ I remind myself what’s driving me to get me from point A to point B – sometimes it’s not about having your daily motivation but having the bigger picture – the drive to get you to where you need to be.”
“I wanted to enlist ever since I can remember,” said Reim. “I feel like one of the reasons I joined initially is for my country – its culture, your Family, your friends, how you were raised – if you grow up in it (military life), you’re more use to it.”
For Reim, his Family’s military service spans generations.
“My grandfather served in the Army as a sergeant major, my father was in the German navy, so I’ve got somewhat of a long line of family on both sides serving.” Reim said. “Funny enough, my father is from the region I’m in, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)!”
Even with a family tie to NRW, Reim knew very little about Dülmen Tower Barracks before arriving three years ago.
“It’s a different world over here – different life, different culture, everything is different – and it takes some getting used to, especially if you’ve come here by yourself,” he said. “When you’re four hours away from the flagpole you have to rely on one another, because if you don’t, you’re going to be lost. Thankfully, we’re a community within a community of the Benelux.”
It is that sense of community, the continued desire to serve and doing work he always wanted to from the beginning that continues to motivate Reim and served as a catalyst for his reenlistment.
“Some days it’s a little bit more rewarding than others but for the most part I’m doing what I signed up for.” Reim said. “I’ve been in the Benelux for almost three years and part of my reenlistment included the opportunity to stay in the Benelux an additional three years – that is exactly what I wanted!”
For more information on Army Values, the Oath of Enlistment or to learn “How to Join” visit: