Feature June 2010
Discovering the pasts of our hallways’ commanding officers DONG DONG GUO Staff Writer
LAINEY SIDELL Sports Editor The Westword: What made you decide to enlist in the Army? Sergeant Major Finick: I was doing construction work and a lot of guys on the job were talking about their experiences and I just decided to join. The Marine recruiter was out to lunch; that’s how I ended up in the Army. I have no regrets, though, because things worked out for the best after all. TW: How long did you serve in the Army? What was the best part of coming home? SMF: I served for 25 years. The Army was my home. You’re eligible to retire after 20 years, and I did five more. It wasn’t a matter of coming home, it was [a matter of] changing careers. TW: What does your title mean? SMF: It is the rank that I retired from the Army with. It is the highest enlisted rank. TW: What was the worst part of joining the Army? The best? SMF: The worst was time away from my family, because I was away for extended periods of time. The best was the camraderie and the close friendships and brotherships with the men that I served with. I’ve been to over 20 countries and got the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures. TW: What did you learn from serving in the Army? SMF: I learned to appreciate all walks of life, cultures, and religions. I learned to see people for their skills rather than what they look like. Serving is what it is; it’s service. The military tries to instill teamwork. You learn that not everything is about you, it’s about the team. TW: Serving in the Army and teaching are two very different vocations. Did you ever think that you would be a teacher? SMF: I thought a lot about becoming a teacher after my military career. I wanted to be in a position to teach kids. It’s not only a second career but a way of honoring people who influenced me, because now I can influence others. TW: What would you say to a student who might be interested in joining JROTC? SMF: I would ask them to talk to other kids in JROTC. It’s a great program; we have strict rules but it’s a great learning experience and will teach you skills that you wouldn’t learn anywhere else.
It’s not all about the military. I do my best to help students learn to make the right choices. TW: How does JROTC benefit students? What do you hope to teach students? SMF: Our curriculum is very varied and not all about military skills. [JROTC is] just a vehicle to help build confidence and leadership skills. It helps kids with things outside of school in a way that no other program can. TW: How much longer do you want to be a teacher at Westhill? Any plans after that? SMF: Indefinitely. There might be a point where I’m walking on a cane, but I’ll do this for as long as I’m physically able to. I often thought about becoming a guidance counselor. There will be a time where I can’t do this anymore and I still want to contribute to young people by being a guidance counselor.
Sgt. Major Finick
The Westword: For how long did you serve in the Army? What was your position? Major Weber: I served in the Army for seven years as a major. TW: What are the responsibilities of a Major? MW: Each job is different. In command, you talk care of health, welfare and training [and more]. As a staff officer, it’s logistics. It changes. TW: How would you describe your military life and your experiences in the Army? MW: It was a learning experience and adventure. I lived all around the world; I have been to 81 countries and lived on many of them. It was quite a cultural experience. TW: What made you want to join the Army?
MW: I joined the Army because I wanted the educational benefits as well to be able to serve my country. Also, I wanted to travel and see the world. TW: What were the best and worst parts of being in the Army? MW: The best part was the growth in myself and being able to travel. The worst was being separated from my family, and having to travel. TW: What are some of the obstacles you have faced? MW: It’s hard to say, [but] getting an education was a struggle for me because I didn’t have enough money for it, so I had to find ways to get it. I had to work. The GI Bill also helped me receive an education. TW: How did you become a teacher? MW: When I was ready to retire from the Army, I was looking for a job that would challenge me as well as be fun and rewarding. I also wanted to do something that would allow me to give something back to the community, and teaching was it. TW: What would you say to someone who is interested in joining JROTC? MW: Come talk to us. You don’t know until you find out. [JROTC is] “the class that doesn’t fit in a textbook.” TW: What are your thoughts on Westhill? MW: I think it’s a great, vibrant community. I was looking for a teaching job and the principal at that time needed an instructor for the JROTC. He called General Konnitzer and he recommended me for the job. I came here, interviewed for the job, and loved it. I have been here ever since. TW: What was your dream before you joined the Army? MW: I wanted to be an oceanographer before [I decided to join the Army]. There were only two schools for that, but I couldn’t afford them. I went to a medical school instead, but I couldn’t afford the tuition after two years, so I went to the Army. TW: What are your goals for your future? MW: I want to work on my doctrine and I am going to be ordained as a pastor in our church this October. TW: How successful do you think the JROTC programs is? MW: I think it’s very successful. Our cadets have better grades and attendance and they are able to get jobs and into good colleges easier thanks to the JROTC program.