DAEGU, Republic of Korea - Growing up in Alton, Illinois, a city on the Mississippi river, a young Anthony Barham was inspired to follow his family and serve in the military. Service that has shepherded him around the world to South Korea as a Military Police Soldier.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Barham, 94th Military Police Battalion, chose to don the uniform because his grandfather wore it while fighting in World War II and his cousins wore it during multiple tours to Afghanistan.
Speaking outside of a hanger – the sounds of his Soldiers training, free weights clashing on the ground, squad leaders ordering Soldiers with body armor to strike with controlled movements can be heard from inside, “I thought it was my turn to serve,” Anthony says, “My turn to contribute to the cause. At this point it's a family thing,” he added.
When asked if he had an ‘a-ha moment’ after he joined the Army. Anthony quickly smiled and shook his head.
“You know it wasn’t that much of an ‘a-ha moment because basic training was like growing up with my dad. I was living the same kind of lifestyle. I just perfected it when I joined,” Anthony says.
Soon after he enlisted into the Army, his sister Constance followed in his footsteps, but she decided to walk a slightly different path. She became an Air Traffic Controller in the Air Force. Constance holds the same pay grade as her brother. As far as Anthony is concerned there is no doubt who has seniority in the family.
“Oh, I have seniority,” Anthony shot back after being asked which sibling goes to at-ease for the other, a courtesy given to Soldiers of higher rank, “I don’t think she will ever do it. No matter what it is. I think it will be a fight before she ever does that,” Anthony jokingly explained.
Anthony says he makes fun of his sister joining the Air Force “absolutely everyday,” but the pride he has for her is apparent when he follows up saying “she’s an air traffic controller. Her job is much more stressful than mine.” he says. “At dinner we always make the same military branch jokes, but I’m glad she is serving her country as well,” he added.
Sixteen years ago Anthony raised his right hand and joined the United States Army. Reflecting back on his career and how far the Army has come, he says he knows the changes in the Army will open up new doors for Soldiers joining today.
“When I came in, the Army was focused on deployments, rapid deployments. Now the Army is focused on garrison, education, and benefits,” he says. “Now Soldiers are starting to get the opportunity to enjoy the benefits without having to deploy multiple times.”
Anthony says he appreciates the guidance and inspiration from family members and leaders he has looked up to over the years. As he spoke about his career and success, he emphasized the importance of having not one but multiple mentors. How no one person is like another and how we all come from different places. “A good mentor tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.”
After a career and life inspired to serve his nation by a family legacy going back to World War II, a Service Member from Alton, Illinois, is proud to now serve alongside Korean Augmentation to the United States Army in South Korea as a Military Police Soldier.
Anthony says he has one key message to young men and women just now raising their right hand, “Always be humble, always take advice from everyone whether they are peers or supervisors. Always apply your knowledge and pass it down to those who come after you,” Pausing for a moment he concluded saying. “ Always be available to those who seek help.”