By Spc. Nadia Young, Task Force SaberAugust 28, 2010
Service members from across the country all have different reasons for joining the military, education being a reason for many. With the economy's current state , the cost of higher education is something that is a struggle for many to afford.
Such was the case with Pfc. Thomas Mayhood, Delta Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade aircraft armament, electronic and avionics systems repairer, who did just that; chose to serve his country in order to set his family up for the ultimate of successes.
Originally from Neodesha, Kan., Mayhood has sought to teach for as long as he can remember. He knew the military would help him on the path to becoming a high school teacher and had no reservations about serving his country in a time of war, especially if it brought him one step closer to his goal of finishing his degree.
"I want to teach high school and coach high school football and track," said Mayhood. "They were things I had a great time with in school, and I want to give back to the kids what was given to me. I was working on my degree at Pitt State University before I came in the Army."
Possessing good study habits from his college experience was his greatest asset in helping him win the Task Force Saber Soldier of the Month board for the month of July.
He was inside of the troop's aircraft hangar proudly reciting the Soldier's Creed three times a day for all to hear. He said his leaders knew he had a real chance of winning the board and quizzed him as frequently as possible.
It ultimately came down to Mayhood and one other Soldier during the board. While his study habits and familiarity with basic military knowledge helped him make it into the top two, the winning factor was affected by his weapons scorecard.
"I didn't really think anything of it the last time we went to the range, but I always try to give it my all at everything I do," said Mayhood. "I shot the best I could, and it helped me in the end."
Mayhood's win has brought the troop's morale to an all-time high. This is the third win for the troop, the most for any troop or company in the entire task force.
"I definitely have some awesome leaders," said Mayhood. "They were studying with me all the time. They set me up for success and are always checking on not just me, but also everybody I work with. They really care about us. Their work ethic and military knowledge are great."
While he was always career driven prior to joining the military, the Army gave him extra determination. "You want to succeed here," said Mayhood. "You don't want to fail. Everybody around you is doing great things, and that's really motivating. The Army gave me better perspective on everything."
Mayhood is completely career-oriented right now. While his focus is on finishing this deployment and getting promoted to specialist, he also wants to attend air assault training when the unit returns to Fort Campbell, Ky., and possibly even complete a flight packet, he said.
Married for just over a year, "he did not expect to miss his wife and family as much as he does now," said Mayhood. To keep busy, he spends a lot of time at the gym.
"We have two dogs, a Jack-Russell and a mutt, and we spend a lot of time outdoors with them when I'm home," said Mayhood. "I can't wait to go home, but I try to use my time as constructively as possible. I work out and read a lot."
His family has been extremely supportive of his choices since joining the military and is very proud of him. His grandfather is also a veteran, having served in the Korean War.
When questioned whether or not he will stay in for the full 20 years, Mayhood said, "I really can't say right now. I've wanted to teach for a long time, and I know that the military will help me to do that. I really like what I do, but I think that I want to teach more."
He believes the military is always a good 'ladder' to use when you actually want to work hard and go better places in life.
"I have my goals," said Mayhood. "They've always been there, and right now, I just want to work toward them. We'll see what happens in the future, but right now, I'm having fun."