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I’ll do my best to keep this short. I could easily write a book or even a series for that matter, as most people probably could, on the events of my life, but for the sake of you (the reader), who probably didn’t click this to read a book, I’ll try and keep it short.
I was born in Alton, IL on November 18th 1986. My parents never really had their life together and after both were affected by drugs and alcohol I ended up in the middle of a custody battle and ended up being adopted by my Mothers sister, my Aunt and her husband. This was a pivotal moment in my life because if I hadn’t of grown up in their kind loving household my life would likely have ended up much worse.
I grew up in the church with Aunt & Uncle (and my older cousin), they were the pastors of a local non-denominational church. This time of my life was very pleasant. I had a ton of friends, met my wife C.J. there when we were kids and developed lifelong friends and core values that I carry til this day.
After my aunt and uncles time as pastors came to an end they decided they were going into the missionary field and moving to Oklahoma, I came with them. As a 14 year old kid in junior high, not liking being away from my friends and family back in IL I decided I wanted to move in with my Dad in Illinois whom I’ve never actually lived with permanently. Keep in mind the culture of a pastors house is much different than that of my fathers. So after finishing my 8th grade in Oklahoma I moved back to start high school in a school district a couple towns over from where I had originally went to school, so my old friends weren’t too far.
High school was a TRIP! I had a blast. It was a major change from the Christian church environment I was brought up in, but I feel it was for the best as I was exposed to challenges that I doubt I would have faced in a more “cushioned” environment. My high school wasn’t that big, with a graduating class of about 100 I knew most of the students in the school or they at least knew of me. I was very outgoing, played football for two years and attended just about every party I could go to. Needless to say, academia was not my forte and I barely obtained enough credits to graduate on time. But I did graduate..
I had moved out of my fathers house my senior year after fighting with him and my stepmother about god knows what and moved into my best friends grandparents attic in Alton, IL. I worked at Jack n’ the Box as a fry cook during that time and had ZERO plans for my future, but I knew I needed to do something. So I moved back with my Aunt and Uncle who moved to Tennessee to work with a new missionary organization. I lived there for almost a year working at Lowes home improvement in Crossville, TN. I was helping a merchandising company remodel the inside of the store for about 6 months as a Lowes employee. Around this time I was also thinking of joining the Army as I always wanted to growing up and had a few family members who also served. This was another important fork in the road with my life where, if I had chosen to stay working with the merchandising company, my life could have ended up much worse, but luckily for me, I made the right choice and joined the Army in February of 2006 under the guidance of my other cousin who had served recently before then.
I joined the Army in February 2006 and shipped off to basic training in Ft Sill, Oklahoma shortly after with “Airborne” in my contract. My first job or “MOS” (Military Occupational Specialty) was 13B or “Cannon Crew Member” learning how to maintain, set up and shoot howitzers (modern day cannons) for combat operations. I attended Airborne School shortly after basic training and learned to jump from an airplane for combat ops. I was assigned to the infamous 82nd Airborne, home of Special Forces, Airborne and other special operations units. The 8 years I spent in the 82nd was intense, two deployments to Iraq, one deployment to Haiti for humanitarian aide and many jump and training events to fill other times. I was also married to my wife and longtime friend C.J. the day after i got home from my first deployment and we started a family (we now have three kids). Army life wasn’t easy and definitely tested us as a couple, but after I completed Recruiting duty back in Alton and decided to get out in 2016 I feel it only made us stronger and showed us what we could take.
After getting out of the Army I didn’t really know what I was going to do, I posted my resume and hoped for the best. I got a call from a guy also named Gary who asked me if I’d ever thought about doing “Staffing”, I told him I had no idea what it was, but he said it was similar to recruiting so I ran with it. I became a Technical Recruiter shortly after with Beacon Hill Technologies hiring techy people for larger companies in the St Louis, MO area. After doing this for about 3 years I decided I needed a change and started looking for other work in areas that interested me more like “Digital Marketing” and “Social Media Consulting” which I had dabbled in while recruiting for the Army and picked up the interest helping close friends and small businesses with their online presence. This brings me to my current position now as a Marketing Manager.
I feel extremely lucky to have been given the chance at this role since I have no degree or formal college education. I can honestly say that the only reason I have this job is because of my own actions and my own perseverance, even when I thought it seemed impossible for me to get a position like this. It has shown me that people can get stuck in a mindset that you’re only capable of doing things you’ve been told you can do or are even allowed to do. I enjoy my job much more now, I’m much happier and I would still be in the same position I was in before if I hadn’t of jumped out of my comfort zone to make a change. I encourage everyone to do so, if you feel you’re unhappy, with whatever it is. I have a house, three kids, a good job, and we’re all healthy. I do podcasts about once a week, collect guns and survival gear and have a great network of friends. I don’t think I have much to complain about as of this time, but things always change so be sure to follow my blog posts for real time updates on things happening with me and my life.