Once a year, America blows the whistle and calls a time out to take one day to say, “thank you” to the veterans who have honorably and nobly served our country.
To commemorate the occasion, The Daily Citizen spoke with Army veteran Curt Sawyer, who currently serves as Focus on the Family’s Senior Manager of Relationship Services.
Despite having little military background as a kid, Sawyer was accepted to and graduated from West Point in 1990. “I didn’t have a military background. My dad was in the Navy for a bit, but that just wasn’t part of our pedigree,” Sawyer said in an interview with The Daily Citizen.
Following graduation, he went on to serve in the Army for four and a half years, with his first assignment in South Korea along the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
Sawyer recounts how upon arriving in South Korea, he reported for duty in a very formal manner, but was taken by surprise as to how the military really worked.
The officer he reported to told him, “Lieutenant, that’s not the way the real Army works. What we ask of leaders of military officers is to get to know your men, and love them and care for them and lead them well, and in return they will love you and they will follow you.”
“It was this huge shift for me, and I was all in, and I loved it,” Sawyer said.
After he returned from his year-long deployment in South Korea, Sawyer was accepted by and promoted to serve with the U.S. Army Rangers.
As a part of his service as a Ranger, Sawyer was deployed to train with the French Foreign Legion for two weeks. The Legionnaires are highly trained infantry soldiers who serve as a crucial part of the French Armed Forces.
Sawyer noted that training with The Legion was one of the highlights of his career since he had wanted to join them when he was a kid.
“They are every bit as tough as you would imagine,” Sawyer recalled.
In one training operation, Sawyer and his team parachuted with the Legionnaires by jumping out of an aircraft into a small landing zone (LZ).
“[On that day] everything that was not supposed to be done, we did,” Sawyer noted.
“These pilots showed up, and it was late taking off because they were having their wine and cheese. Literally. I asked, ‘Have they been drinking?’ And they responded, ‘Yeah, they always do. They fly better when they’re drunk.”
To make matters worse, since they were late taking off, they missed their window for good weather and had to parachute in the middle of a brewing storm.
Sawyer and one other of his team members landed inside the LZ, though the rest of his team ended up in the trees, metal wires surrounding the LZ or on buildings.
Following the mission, it was the Legionnaires who complimented the Army Rangers’ toughness.
Now living life as a civilian, Sawyer has recently taken up writing. He composes different letters to the editor at the Colorado Springs Gazette with the goal of promoting faith, family and civic virtue.
“My dad used to write letters to the editor, and I always thought that was neat. It stuck with me,” Sawyer said.
“I’ve been a non-believer much longer than I’ve been a believer. God has allowed me to do some pretty cool things. To do the military, then I went into the business world and worked for three Fortune 500 companies for 13 years… God has given me a lot of life experiences. I’ve been through a lot of valleys. God has been with me, even when I wasn’t a Christian.”
Speaking as to why he’s taken up writing, he said, “I have an obligation… to serve others and to give back.”
One of his letters, titled, “The importance of marriage,” examines how the traditional family structure is a cornerstone to a healthy society.
“Completing high school, getting married, and having children, in that order, results in the high probability of being economically stable,” Sawyer advises in one of his letters.
He reinforces the altruistic character that marriage imbues:
“There is something about marriage… not merely a relationship, but marriage… that forces a male to take responsibility and ownership of his role as provider and protector of his family. It compels him to do things he otherwise would not want to do of his own accord out of great concern for those he has responsibility for.”
A separate letter that Sawyer wrote reminds his readers about the importance of books, especially in an age where social media reigns supreme.
“A book has a way of reawakening my dreams and causing me to process and ponder on important things in life more deeply and carefully,” he writes. “Books, and the key ideas contained within them, give encouragement to keep persevering when life inevitably gets tough.”
That is wise advice, especially for younger generations who seem to have endless time to stare at screens, yet so little to dig into valuable tomes.
Curt Sawyer has done what many of America’s veterans do. Throughout their military career, they choose to give a significant piece of themselves over to their country. Some give their lives.
And even after returning to civilian life, they just keep giving.
To all our veterans, on today’s Veterans Day, I wish to express a heartfelt thank you!
You can follow this author on Twitter @MettlerZachary
Photo from Shutterstock