MARYVILLE, Mo. — This veterans day we are paying special tribute to a man who has dedicated his adult life thus far to protecting our rights, fighting for our freedoms, and serving his country in the Army National Guard. Click play below to listen to KMZU’s Ashley Johnson visit with Afghanistan War Veteran, Sergeant with the Fire Direction Command Specialist in an Artillery Unit, Justin “Boots” Driskell:
Veterans Day means so much too so many people… Veterans feel a sense of appreciation, family and friends who have lost loved ones in the line of duty feel a deeper gratitude for the sacrifices made, and the entire general population show a respect some didn’t know was there.
For some, joining the military is for nobility and pride. For some, the advantages such as world adventure and financial aid for higher education play a role. For others the cause is a deeply rooted family affair accompanied by a sense of pride in their country and service to a brotherhood held to some of the highest standards. For small town Missouri resident Justin Driskell, it was a little bit of everything.
Just coming into adulthood at the young age of 17, Driskell knew where his life was headed and so did his parents. Signing a waiver to enter the Army National Guard early was a step his parents knew would let him go, avoiding a wait for Driskell that was bound to happen just a short year later.
This is where Driskell’s adventure began. As usual, he first went through the unrelenting and extremely strenuous basic training every military man and woman must complete. This is not only a training and educational venture, but builds a bond among the recruits and forms a long lasting connection to American pride.
After training, Driskell was eventually deployed to Afghanistan. Up in the high mountain ranges is where he and many other soldiers were based.
“Where we were at was kind of different, most people think I was probably hot in the desert but where we were at was actually in the mountain ranges.” Driskell recalled his everyday life while living in the foreign land, “In the winter time we actually had to deal with snow and cold weather and then in the summer time it was you know, 110 average, nice and warm and then plus you know all the terrorist bombs and stuff that we had to deal with on a weekly and daily basis.”
The weather and active military campaign however wasn’t the bulk of Driskell’s everyday life.
“We woke up at about 5 a.m. every day, went to chow or breakfast and ate, then we went back and geared up and put all our body armor on and it just depending on the day or the carry out,” explained Driskell, “Then we’d go down and get our convoy brief and we basically escorted civilians from base to base and other places. Then we’d go over the briefing and what route and how certain situations then we’d go and load up and take them. On the given day we’d run one to three convoys to other bases a day and we’d usually get done about dark because that was the protocol.”
After the day’s work, Dreskill continued saying they’d return to base eat supper, workout, and then relax before bed to wake up and do it all again.
Another part of soldier life is the teasing from other branches. Even those who aren’t military related know the terms; Jar Head, Hell Hounds, Squids, Grunts, Flyboy, and so many more. These names we sometimes see as a nasty exchange of name calling are not all they seem to be.
“On base we had a big go out because we Marines and Air Force and Navy all on our base so we had all the branches on our base,” Driskell said, “And we were all after hours picking on each like that you know you’ve got the Marines and you call Jar Heads but when it came down to it, we’re brothers in arms, we fight for the same flag and we’d come together and we’d stand next to each other no matter what it took.”
After serving exactly a year in Afghanistan, Driskell returned home. He remembers his transition back into civilian life and stated the hardest thing for him to get used to again was following traffic signs. Driskell said while overseas, you’re taught to drive to avoid IED’s (land mines), which means swerving to miss debris piles and never stopping.
Driskell said even his dad asked him why he was driving in the wrong lane once he got home. He also said he had to re-learn how to pay attention to stop signs.
To this day, Driskell is still an active member of the Guard. He has extended his service term twice so far, making him an active military man for 12 years now and he says he’ll go for at least more term when he finishes out the six years left on the most recent extension.
Truly believing in what he has fought for and the way the Army has changed and helped him grow is just one reason Driskell continues his Military career and given the opportunity, he said he would volunteer to deploy again.
On this Veterans Day we thank you, Justin Driskell for your service and the time you’ve dedicated to protecting the rights and freedoms we as American citizen are blessed to have.