Happy Veterans Day!
As our nation celebrates Veterans Day, Cullman Electric Cooperative is proud to recognize its six current employees who served — or continue to serve — our country’s military: (pictured left to right) Judd Morton (Army National Guard, 2006-2010), Shannon Bell (Army National Guard, 1989-1993), Ernie Geisen (Navy, 1982-85; Air Force, 85-89; Army Reserve, 90-98; Air Force Reserve, 99-2008), John Black (Army National Guard, 1983-present), Keith Tankersley (Marine Corp, 1988-1992), and Chad Thompson (Navy, 1997-2001).
Morton, Bell, Geisen, Tankersley, and Thompson are all linemen at Cullman EC, while Black is a former lineman who now supervises all of the co-op’s contract services crews. Collectively, their military service took them to cities and towns across the country, as well as international stops in Romania, Japan, France, the Indian Ocean, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Recently, the group sat down to answer some questions regarding their service to our country.
What motivated you to join the military?
Bell: I joined because pretty much all my family had served. My dad was in the Navy during WWII. My uncle is buried in New Guinea. Killed by a Japanese sniper.
Black: I don’t know. I guess I needed the money.
Geisen: Not sure exactly, 6 days after graduation from high school I was headed to bootcamp – that was my summer trip.
Morton: I was interested in the training.
Tankersley: To see the world.
Thompson: My brother was in.
Tell us about your time in bootcamp:
Bell: Best part about bootcamp was it’s extremely hard! Harder than two a days but my drill Sargents were all fair.
Black: I did more pushups for laughing than anything else. Drill sergeants are hilarious.
Geisen: Often wondered “What the hell have I done?”
Morton: I enjoyed the training and experience.
Tankersley: It was no fun.
Thompson: I questioned my decision to join (but that feeling went away).
What was your primary job after training?
Bell: US Calvery Scout. We sneak and peak.
Geisen: Aircraft maintenance. In the desert, I went down range to recover aircraft.
Morton: Whatever I was told.
Thompson: Aviation electrician.
What rank or medals or citation are you most proud to have earned?
Bell: E4, my highest rank.
Black: The Order of Saint Maurice because one has to be nominated and approved by a panel of the National Infantry Association. All of the medals or awards I received were earned on the back of my soldiers.
Geisen: Have many, probably the ones received from desert trips.
Morton: I enjoyed the marksmanship part. I always shot expert on the qualifications, and I still enjoy shooting today.
Tankersley: Corporal, because it was the hardest to get.
Thompson: I reached E-5, Petty Officer 2nd Class in two-and-a-half years. To earn the aviation Warfare Wings, I had to study and retain a lot of information.
How does your military experience affect your life today?
Bell: Attention to details. We were taught that speed kills. That holds true in my daily life at work. It’s not the big obvious things that kills you, it’s the small things that get overlooked that will be your demise.
Black: The biggest thing is the perspective you gain from being exposed to various climates, cultures, and personalities.
Geisen: It teaches you a life of respecting life, family, country. You learn to pay attention to details, planning, seeing the mission through, and most important bring everyone home.
Morton: Self-discipline and self-motivation.
Tankersley: Read a USA today article probably 20 years ago. Talked about different branches and how long it takes to revert to civilian life… Marine Corps – indefinate.
Thompson: I learned a lot about discipline and accountability, but the biggest thing is how much I value being home with family every day.
Happy Veterans Day to these men, all those who serve for our country, and the families and communities who support them!