PRESERVING A MILITARY LEGACY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
The following Reflections represents CSM Robert (Rob) M. Preusser’s legacy of his military service from 1995 to Present. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The following Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life. Start recording your own Military Memories HERE.
Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Army.
I have raised an Army brat. I grew up with military role models. My father, uncle, and grandfather were in the Army. I had two other uncles in the Air Force. Made it an easy choice for military service. Being an Army brat, moving to multiple middle schools and two high schools, I was burned out with schooling and didn’t have the means to go directly into college, so military service was the logical choice for me. It fit me better because I wanted to get out on my own and travel the world. I wanted something more than working in my hometown. I wanted to do something positive with my life and make a difference to others.
Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?
I went 11X to Fort Benning for OSUT. I was assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry (MECH) in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood. I deployed as part of Intrinsic Action and Desert Strike in 1996 with 1st Cav. I transitioned to the E Co. 52nd Infantry (Airborne) Long-Rang Surveillance Company on West Fort Hood, Texas. When the unit was deactivated as part of the larger move to shut down LRS Companies, I was given the choice of assignment and I PCS’d to Hawaii. I served in B Co 2-5 Infantry for over 2 years until I was curtailed from my OCONUS assignment and sent to Fort Drum.
I served at Drum for 9 years, where I deployed to Bosnia, twice to Iraq, and once to Afghanistan. In early 2009, I moved back to Fort Hood, where I served as an HHC Brigade 1SG in an ACRC unit, the 120th Infantry Brigade. After completing my 60th month as a 1SG, I took off the Diamond and served as a Brigade Operations Sergeant until I made the Sergeant Major Selection list. I PCSd to Fort Bliss for Class 63 of the US Army SGM Academy. Upon graduation, my family and I moved to Fort Wainwright, Alaska. There I served at Fort Wainwright as a Battalion Operations Sergeant Major, Battalion Command Sergeant Major, and Brigade Operations Sergeant Major.
I was then selected to serve as a Battalion Command Sergeant Major again, and I went to Fort Hood for the third time as a Command Sergeant Major in 1-3 Cav (Stryker). After my CSM assignment, I PCS’d back to Alaska to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to be the 4/25 IBCT (Airborne) Operations Sergeant Major and then as the US Army Alaska G3/5/7 Sergeant Major. I was selected to serve as a Brigade Level CSM and I PCS’d back to Fort Wainwright, where I served as a Brigade Level Garrison Command Sergeant Major for US Army Garrison-Alaska. In this position, I was the Brigade level Senior Enlisted Advisor for three Army installations in Alaska for all things Garrison. We cover the Army Support Activities at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Fort Greely, and Fort Wainwright. I am now assigned as a Brigade Command Sergeant Major in the 5th Armored Combined Arms Training Brigade at Fort Bliss, TX. I have not left the service yet, but I would be retiring when I leave this position because I am approaching mandatory retirement at 30 years.
If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which made a lasting impact on you and, if life-changing, in what way?
I deployed to Kuwait for Operations Desert Strike and Intrinsic Action in 1996. During this deployment, we slept on cots under camo nets. It showed you how nice you had it when back at your duty station. We didn’t take real showers for over two months. It was truly roughing it on deployment. It taught me always to enjoy the comforts because they would not always be there.
I deployed on 11 Sep 2001 for Bosnia for Operation Joint Forge and the SFOR10 mission. This mission was awesome because we got to see how our efforts were helping a nation recover from a horrific war and genocide in the former Yugoslavia. We got to see the country start to rebuild with our help. It humbled me the way these people tried to see the positive in all they had.
I have deployed to Afghanistan as part of Enduring Freedom in 03-04. This deployment was good because we operated in small units, and our platoon was on a small firebase for months with an SF team. We did the huge company and battalion-level air assaults to take the fight to the Taliban.
I also served in Baghdad, Iraq, from 05-06. This deployment was probably my least favorite because it seems like we trolled around Baghdad for IEDs. We also performed duties as Military training Teams (MiTT), where we advised the Iraqi army and went on patrols with them. On one patrol in Oct 2005, I was a platoon sergeant, and my Platoon Leader, a squad leader, and I dismount with a group of Iraqi Soldiers. When we took some fire, they ran off and left the three of us with our interpreter alone on the streets of Baghdad. Needless to say, it was interesting for a little bit. But our trucks came and finally picked us up, and we returned unscathed.
I served in Tikrit, Iraq, from 07-08. During this deployment, we served as an Air Assault TF as part of TF Ghost. This was by far my favorite deployment because of the sheer number of Air Assaults we conducted. We did 2-4 day operations clearing locations around the country. It was a great mission, and we had a blast.
I also served in Afghanistan during Operations Freedoms Sentinel and Resolute Support in Afghanistan 2016-2017. As the Bagram Ground Defense Task Force, we were tasked to provide security at the Airbase and the surrounding terrain around the Base. We worked with the Czech units, Republic of Georgia units, Romanian Military Police, Polish Army Contingent, two different Iraqi Battalions, Ugandan and Afghan guards, as well and multiple different US Military organizations. This was an interesting deployment. My Battalion was split up at over 15 different locations around the country, so I did a lot of traveling to visit them throughout the deployment.
I have loved my two operational and four combat deployments, but my second Iraq tour was awesome. I think the biggest takeaway for me was the warrior spirit in our Soldiers. Despite how crappy a situation maybe while you are over there or out on patrol, you only remember the positive and funny parts once you are back on camp or done with the deployment. No one ever dwells on the parts that sucked. It says a lot about the warrior spirit of the American service member. The other takeaway from all my time overseas is that you have to cherish and appreciate your family when you are home because you will miss them fiercely when you are away. Enjoy every second, no matter if it’s sitting down and watching a tv show or movie or going to a kids sporting event. Soak it all in. The kids grow up and move on with life, and you never get those moments back.
Did you encounter any situation during your military service when you believed there was a possibility you might not survive? If so, please describe what happened and what was the outcome.
There was a night in Iraq in October 2005. My Platoon leader, myself (PSG), and one Squad Leader as MiTT team advisors were out with a platoon of Iraqi Soldiers. At first contact, those Soldiers left the 3 of us and ran away. We had to maneuver quite a ways under fire to link up to our trucks which we dropped off and walk-in by foot so we wouldn’t be heard. Our commo was not working well enough to relay. We had an interpreter with us, and we used his cell phone to call another interpreter at the base to pass a message through the operations center to our trucks to have them get us.
I won’t say I didn’t think I would survive because I knew we would. I was with two great Americans and a phenomenal interpreter. I was more upset about how far we walked away from our vehicles and didn’t account for the Soldiers abandoning us.
Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which was your least favorite?
I truly love it in Alaska. It is beautiful and there is plenty to do. I have served three times here and we love it.
We have been all over already. Have to make the best of everywhere you are stationed.
I have been assigned to
Ft. Hood, TX (95-97,)
Schofield Barracks, HI (97-00)
Ft. Drum, NY (00-09)
Ft. Hood, TX 09-12)
Ft. Bliss, TX (12-13)
Ft. Wainwright, AK (2 times) (13-15)
Ft. Hood, TX (15-17)
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK (17-19)
Fort Wainwright, Alaska (19-22)
Fort Bliss, TX (22-Present)
Don’t have a least favorite out of where I have served. I can tell you Irwin or Polk are not my favorite places that I have been to. Been there a few times for rotations.
From your entire military service, describe any memories you still reflect back on to this day.
I remember standing at a bonfire on the top of a mountain in Afghanistan trying not to freeze to death with all my brothers. It was awesome looking back but really sucked while we were there.
What professional achievements are you most proud of from your military career?
1. One of my most humbling and fond memories is my participation in the D-Day 74 Anniversary jump into the La Fiere Drop Zone in St. Mere Eglise, France, in June 2018. I was part of 4/25 IBCT (Airborne) out of Alaska, and I got to Jump with the Romanian Army onto planned drop zones from World War 2 and earn my Romanian Parachutist Badge. This experience was probably the best thing I have ever participated in. The people of France love the American Paratrooper and treated us as if we liberated them in 1944. I cannot believe that after all these years, the older generation still teaches the youth to respect and show so much love for the American Soldier. Our people in the US cannot understand the feeling of being liberated as the French have. It is crazy to see how our civilian population treats Soldiers once you have seen how French people treat our Soldiers. I got to spend time with several WW2 veterans at Omaha and Utah beach as well as after the jump celebration. We toasted to them and their families that came with them. They are truly some of the bravest to walk this earth. So that is probably my favorite.
2. Probably my CIB in Afghanistan in 2003 and my EIB in 1997. One is the mark of the professional expert infantryman, and the other says I did my job in combat.
3. Being awarded the Czech Republic Medal for service Abroad from the Czech Republic Minister of Defense for our work with the Czech Republic units in Afghanistan. It was humbling to be recognized by a government official from a Foreign Country.
4. Being awarded the Polish Afghanistan Star for Cooperation and Merit from the President of Poland. It was humbling to be recognized by a government official from a Foreign Country.
5. Being awarded Japanese Parachutist Badge for conducting training and a Bi-lateral Airborne jump with the Japanese Airborne Brigade as part of Arctic Aurora 2019 in Alaska on 10 June 2019.
Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or other memorabilia, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?
I remember my Expert Infantryman’s Badge. That was tough, and not too many people got it. Something I will always look back on with pride. After that, I will say my Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
I also have received the Romanian Parachutist Badge for jumping with the Romanian Army during the 74th Anniversary D-Day celebration jump into St. Mere Eglise, France, in June 2018.
I also received a Japanese Parachutist Badge for conducting a bi-lateral Jump with them as part of Arctic Aurora 2019 in Alaska on 10 June 2019.
Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?
To be honest, there are too many to single out. I have had a lot of great leaders in my years in service. To limit this to one would be a disservice to the rest of them who impacted me. But I was extremely lucky to have great leaders coming up.
CPT Spellmeyer, LTC Michael D. Steele, LTC Ricketts, CSM Dove, CSM Lehman, SFC Corpus, SFC Knutson, MG Austin, SSG Smith, SSG St. Rose, LTC Davis, LTC Rowland, SGM Requejo, CSM Lewis, CSM Bass, CSM Sims, CSM Votaw, SFC Johnson, SFC (Now SGM) Harrison, SSG (now CSM) Reed, SSG (Now SGM) Adames, SFC Sunseri, SGT Thomas, CPT Sabbagh, CPT (now LTC) Williams, SPC (now CSM) Garcia, CPT (now LTC Brown, CPT (now LTC) Duchaine, 1SG Lyons, LTC Meadows, SFC Clover, SPC (now MSG) Renne, SPC Collins, SPC Ridge, SPC Brady, SSG now CSM Kirchoff, 1SG( now CSM) Cox, 1SG Combs, SGM Thomas, MG Oneil, CSM Dillingham, CSM Blaisdell, MG Andrysiak, MG Eifler, COL Ruga, CSM Cornett, CSM Lewandowski, CSM Harris, CSM Duenas, and a bunch more.
I could do this all day. I have served with some absolute badasses.
List the names of old friends you served with, at which locations, and recount what you remember most about them. Indicate those you are already in touch with and those you would like to make contact with.
CPT David Williams – Fort Drum – Called him CPT America because he was the most positive and outgoing, physically fit Officer you could ever want to work for.
CPT Ford and LT Jacobs- Fort Drum – Greatest Company XOs ever
SGM Requejo, MAJ Damasio Davila, MAJ Josef Morris, and LTC Jason Davis – Fort Hood -the greatest battle Buddies you could ever deploy with. Great Americans that made stuff happen for our Battalion
SSG Sanders, SSG Kirchoff, SSG Kotchian, SSG Sunseri, Some of the best Squad leaders I have ever worked with.
Can you recount a particular incident from your service, which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?
The irony of it is not lost on me, but in November 2003, we were conducting operations in Afghanistan. We were instructed to cache our rucks/assault packs and climb a mountain to secure a village. We ended up staying up there for a few days. It was so cold at night, and we had no snivel gear. So we lit the hugest bonfire you could imagine. We were making absolutely no attempt to be tactical. Just stay warm. But we had so many Soldiers up there, so no one would mess with us. But thinking back, it was not the smartest thing to be lighting up our position, and it is funny looking back, but still not a smart choice.
What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? if you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?
I am still an Infantryman. 11Z, to be exact. I was a CSM at Fort Hood and a Division G3 Sergeant Major for US Army Alaska in Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska and the US Army Garrison Alaska CSM at Fort Wainwright, AK. I am now the 5th Armored Combined Arms Training Brigade Command Sergeant Major. We are the Active Component Observer Coach/Trainers for National Guard and Reserve units deploying worldwide.
What military associations are you a member of, if any? what specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?
I am a member of the Arctic Sergeants Major Association, AUSA, 10th Mountain Association, National Infantry Association, Armor and Cavalry Association, Long Range Surveillance Association, 3rd Cavalry Regiment Association, and a few others.
But AUSA is one of the best organizations out there. They offered scholarships, grants, discounts, coupons for local services, and many other events. They also have paid to help fund my unit parties. Just a great organization and well worth the money. They are the Voice of Soldiers on the hill for pay raises, etc.
In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career? What do you miss most about your time in the service?
Well, I am not going to lie. It has both positively and negatively affected me. Positively, it has ingrained in me to be a professional, and I have learned a work ethic like no other. I learned nothing good comes easy. And I am glad I chose to serve.
Negatively, it has made me distance myself from the civilian population a little because, having deployed several times, the normal civilian has absolutely no clue what we go through. They are clueless about the strife of the Soldier, and it makes it hard to have anything in common with them anymore. I have to make a conscious effort to keep a relationship with civilian friends because they sometimes don’t understand what we go through. I think this will be the hardest part of the transition when I finally decide to hang up the boot and dog tags.
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Army?
Keep doing the right thing. Set the example and never forget why we do it. So our families don’t have to. Enjoy every day, because it will go fast and it will be over before you know it. Whether you stay in 4 years or 30, thank you for your service and what you will or have done for this Nation. Learn something new every single day. If you are not learning, you are not progressing.
Take a military course, take civilian education, do correspondence, get certifications or credentials. Do something to improve every single day.
Make your Soldiers do it when you become a leader. Don’t let them be content with just showing up. They will eventually realize you were trying to help them grow as soldiers and productive members of society.
And last, Good Luck and Thanks for your Service.
In what ways has togetherweserved.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.
It has enabled me to reach out and reconnect with folks I haven’t seen in 10 years. This is a pretty cool site. Great spot to find long-lost friends and battle buddies.