I left for the Army on 18 August 99. Despite all Sensei Stokes’ teachings I was still in a place in my life where I was lost. Without his teachings there is no telling where I would be today. I was homeless and lost. My best friend, Rob (that would be CPT Rob Stanley) and I had discussed the Army for sometime and those talks guided me to the recruiter’s office.
The Army gave me a home and put me back on the path that Sensei Stokes had originally set me upon. In October of 2001, while stationed at Fort Drum, NY, a month and a half after 9/11, I was on a plane to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This six month tour was my first real experience with the world outside of the USA. Being an Army brat, my father is a retired Sergeant Major, I have been to other countries. I have lived in Germany, back when it was still West Germany and well before the Wall had fallen, and in South Korea. But those years were a sheltered time. Camp Able Sentry, in Macedonia, was culture shock pure and simple. The culture was different, the language was different. Garbage was burned on the side of the street daily. For the first time in my life I was in a whole different world.
I have been in the Army for nine years now. In that time I have been to at least eight different countries and I have had my eyes opened more and more in each. The only thing constant in all those years and those many, many miles, is the drive and discipline given to me by Sensei Darian and the Bushido Judo School. On 29 December 2003, I was promoted to Sergeant in the US Army. That was the proudest moment of my career. The Army was entrusting me with its most valuable resource, its Soldiers. The pride I felt that day was overshadowed by only one day. 4 September 2003, I managed to attend a class at the Bushido Judo School. I had the honor that day of teaching class. Teaching for me has always been a rare joy that I cannot describe. That day, Sensei Stokes and the yudansha gathered. That day I was promoted to Shodan. That day will always be special to me.
I have been to Iraq. I have been to Afghanistan. I will return to the “sandbox” again before I get out. I am not combat arms. I have never fired my weapon against the enemy, and God willing never will. I do my job and hopefully I will get to return home to my son. And someday, if I am truly blessed, I will be there the day my son dons his first gi and eventually his first black belt. The unit I am in now, our motto is “One Team, One Fight”. I have always felt the motto for the Bushido Judo School to be “One Family, One Heart”.