This year we take a brighter look at some of the Steele Rubber Products family members who have served and share the interviews about their lives in the military. We hope you enjoy learning more about these individuals as much as we did!
Rick Ware, Marine Corps Sergeant, 6 years active, 2 two years reserve service – Current Steele Employee
Rick chose the Marine Corps because he was offered the type of job he wanted to do, and the opportunity to travel. Rick spent time in the West Pacific, Germany, Japan, 29 Palms and Camp Pendleton, California.
Boot Camp Experience
Rick was at boot camp for 11 weeks, when he broke his wrist and arm. He was out for 9 months while it healed, and then returned to boot camp having to start all over. “I finished as honor man of the series, and was promoted to LCP right out of boot camp.”
His first assignment was in infantry, as are all marines who train at that location. Rick’s second assignment was as a ground radio technician, repairing the circuit boards on radios.
He was mainly located in the Pacific Region, and had the opportunity to spend six months in Germany.
Among his most memorable experiences was that Rick met his wife, Rebecca, while in the service, and got married six weeks later! Rick and Rebecca have been married for 21 years.
Rick was recognized with the following: Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Ribbon, Marine Rifle Expert Badge, and Marine Pistol Export Badge.
Paul Yaeger, US Army, Chief Warrant Officer 3, 18 years active service – Father to Mary McEntire in Marketing
Mary McEntire’s father, Paul, shared many details about his life in the service with us, and how he continues to work with veterans in his civilian life.
Since I was 3 years old all I can remember ever wanting to be was a pilot. I was 20, I was looking to go into the military, and without a 4-year degree chances were slim that I’d get to become an officer in any other branch. The Army was the only branch where you could become a pilot without a 4-year degree.
Where did you serve?
Kentucky: Ft. Knox, KY- Basic Training; Ft. Eustis, VA- Helicopter Mechanic School; I returned after Alabama to Ft. Campbell, KY- 7th BN, 101st Airborne Division. While assigned here I deployed to Afghanistan for 6 months, Iraq for 13 months, and Egypt for 12 months. I also retired from the Army here in 2009 but continued my service as a DA Civilian working for the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU).
Texas: Ft. Bliss, TX- 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Mary was also born here in 1993
Korea: Camp Humphreys Korea – 377th Medical Company (Dustoff)
Georgia: Hunter Army Airfield, GA – K Co, 4-159th Aviation Regiment. While assigned here I was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina for 7 months.
Alabama: Ft. Rucker, AL- Warrant Officer Candidate School and U.S. Army Helicopter Flight School.
Boot Camp and later Training Experiences
At 20 years old, this was the most physically demanding thing I had ever done. I wasn’t in very good shape prior (round is a shape, right?), so it kicked my butt! I dropped 40 pounds in 8 weeks! My wife and mother both cried when they saw me for the first time after. After Basic Training I spent 6 months learning the basics of helicopter repair.
At 29 years old, I started Warrant Officer Candidate School, and Helicopter Flight Training. It, too, was physically demanding, but also very mentally demanding. Unlike Basic Training, I was in the best shape of my life and ready for the challenge. Flight school lasted about 15 months. I spent 9 years on active duty up to this point and had finally fulfilled my dream of becoming a pilot.
Initially I was a UH-60 Helicopter Mechanic. I did this for about 9 years and was an E-5 when I was accepted into flight school. After flight school, I was a CH-47 helicopter pilot. Returning from deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, I went back to school at Ft. Rucker to become a test pilot.
Tell us about some of your most memorable experiences?
At my flight school graduation, I was able to have Mary, who was 8 at the time, pin my aviator wings on my uniform. Becoming a pilot had been a dream of mine since I was 3, and to be able to share the moment with my baby girl that way was priceless.
The morning of 9/11/2001. I had only been at Ft. Campbell for a couple of months when it happened and knew right away that we’d probably be deploying soon after. Just a few months after 9/11, I was standing on the flight line in Bagram, Afghanistan. Bagram’s airfield was built by the Russians during their occupation and just being there was a surreal experience.
Every time I made it home from a deployment was special. There was no feeling like seeing my family after months of separation. I know it was a big relief for them too. They had to deal with not knowing what was going on with me day to day, so they had a lot of days and nights spent worrying.
Tell us about working with the WTU and the impact on you and those you worked with.
I started off at the Warrior Transition Unit while I was undergoing medical retirement myself. Health problems prevented me from continuing to serve as a pilot. There was an empty civilian position in the company I was assigned to, so I started doing the job to pass the time while I was undergoing my medical retirement board.
Right before I retired, a job posting was listed for the civilian position I was filling, so I applied for it. Since everyone knew me, and I was doing a good job, they hired me fulltime. I retired from the Army on a Friday and started my new job as a civilian on the following Monday.
The WTU was a place where soldiers who could no longer deploy due to illness or injury came to heal and either return to service or go through the medical retirement boards.
I saw a wide range of illnesses and injuries on the soldiers that came through there, and as bad as I felt for my own situation, I always felt worse for a lot of these other soldiers. I was 38, I had a pretty good career and achieved my dreams of becoming a pilot. A lot of these soldiers were under 25, horribly injured and would have years of recovery, but their attitudes and resilience were amazing. These experiences taught me that no matter how bad things may be going in your own life right now, it’s usually just temporary and will get better.
Chip Caldwell, US Army Spec 4, Tank Mechanic, 2 Years – Husband to Terri Caldwell in Customer Service
Having been drafted into Army, Chip reported to Fort Bragg, NC for basic training, and Fort Meade, MD for his AIT (Advance Individual Training). He was stationed in Fort Lewis, WA and received tank training in Yakima, WA.
Boot Camp Experience
Assigned to Fort Bragg from June to July, it was very hot. What Chip remembers is too many pushups in hot sand, and peeling too many potatoes!
Chip was a 5 and 10-ton truck and tank mechanic. He also was a tank machine gun operator, and was awarded the Expert Sharp Shooter Badge.
Chip told us that his most memorable experiences were meeting a lot of great guys, and that he went to a lot of places he wouldn’t have been to otherwise.
Taylor Inman, Active Duty, US Army Specialist, 11th Armored Calvary Brigade – Son of Paul Inman in Customer Service
We didn’t hear back from Taylor on our questionnaire, but we did get a couple photos from Paul.
In the left photo, Taylor is sitting on an Abrams M2 main battle tank holding what looks to be like a Laws Rocket he is at Ft Irwin CA where he acts as the opposition for military personnel before being deployed. In the right photo, Taylor is standing on the far left.
To all Veterans- we thank you today, and every day, for serving our country. You have made sacrifices that most of us can’t possibly understand. Thank you.
God Bless America.
Are you a Veteran? Or have one in your family that you’d like to share about? Please comment and let us know- we’d love to hear from you!