HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - With Veteran's Day approaching and people nationwide celebrating so many men and women who have sacrificed their time, their families, their friends, their well-being, and some even their lives for America's freedom, there are several people who deserve immense recognition who lives in the Tennessee Valley.
John Wright joined the army in 1981 during the height of The Cold War.
He was raised in Huntsville where he went to school before attending Georgia Tech University on an Army ROTC Scholarship.
He graduated in 1981 and served in the Ordinance Corps as well as an Ammunition Logistics Officer. His basic training course was at Redstone Arsenal and he got to come home and train and then went to Germany for three and a half years as a lieutenant, a captain, as a company executive officer, a logistics officer, a company commander in Germany, and he came back to Redstone Arsenal in 1985 for an officer advanced course.
Wright signed to the 303rd ordinance group in Springfield, Ill. before the army selected him to go to graduate school at Babson College in Mass. He earned an MBA there in material acquisition management and went to the Rock Island Arsenal in Ill. He then became the chief of the Ammunition Support Team, and he said that's when life got interesting.
Wright said he went to Florida in support of Hurricane Andrew in the fall of 1992 and then a team was deployed team to Somalia for the first ever operation deployment of that unit who began work with Operation Restore Hope.
Wright said his decision to serve was heavily based on tradition and education. He was a third generation soldier and the Vietnam War had just concluded. He saw the need to serve and wanted to get an education and wanted a choice of places to go. Because of his scholarship, he had an active duty service obligation and was commissioned. Twenty-six years later as an army colonel having commanded at every level up to that point, he and his family decided it was time for him to retire from active service.
"My decision to serve was a combination of patriotism, a desire to serve, influence from parents and grandparents, and a way to get to school," he said. "It wasn't for the glory."
Wright said his proudest moment was serving as Battalion Commander at Redstone Arsenal from 1999 to 2001 when he had the opportunity to lead an organization responsible for training 5,000 to 6,000 soldiers who served in the the post-9/11 era.
"Being a part of that organization in a leadership role was probably the proudest time," he said. "To know we did everything we could to prepare America's finest to take care of the missions we asked them to do."
Wright wants younger people to know they have to step up and take responsibility for the freedoms we have.
"If you enjoy and appreciate the freedoms and liberties of being a citizen of the United States of America and the great things our country has provided for us and will continue to provide, then you need to take some responsibility and give back to the country and back to your fellow citizens either as a serviceman, a doctor, a police officer, a first responder," he said. "Americans are still perceived as leaders of the world, so you need to take some look inward and take some responsibility and say 'yes I will defend this.'"
He said Veterans Day is a great way to say thank you to those who have served and are currently serving in support of our country and what we stand for.
"I use it as a day to give back," said Wright. "It's a way for us to acknowledge the wounded heroes in our midst make sure that it's a day that is important to them. It's unfortunate many companies don't give that as a day off to recognize it."
Wright said he hopes everyone who has the opportunity comes down to Downtown Huntsville on Wednesday to pay respect to heroes of our country.
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