Skip to comments.Down and Dirty: The Life of an Airborne Ranger
Posted on 10/23/2007 5:03:50 PM PDT by SandRat
| BANBAR COMMAND POST, Afghanistan, Oct. 23, 2007 Army Sgt. Jim McKinzie has always made a living out of getting dirty. Judging from his smiling face and his combat uniform -- soiled and stained with dirt, oil and gasoline -- it looks like hes not planning to change that any time soon.
Hes a down and dirty guy, said Spc. Evan Grabenstein, a communications operator from Houston. Hes always the last one to be working.
McKinzie said he doesnt find his work in the Army to be nearly as hard as the staggering number of civilian jobs he has worked.
Ive done air conditioner and heater repair, carpentry, auto mechanics, iron-working, filling fuel tanks and construction, to name a few, McKinzie said as he hooked up chains from a crane to emplace a trailer-sized refrigerator at an isolated outpost in Afghanistans Paktika Province.
Even though he loves his work and may not show any signs of slowing down, he admitted there are some days when he can feel the strain.
Ive done a lot of manual-labor jobs, said the Fort Worth, Texas, native. But at my age, its starting to wear on me a little. I try taking a supervisory role more often. His soldiers would disagree with him on that note, though.
Hes still the first one to volunteer for work, exclaimed Spc. Cara Allen, a driver in the 782nd BSB from Trenton, N.J. Then hell make you do it with him!
I couldnt ask for a better squad leader, said Army Staff Sgt. Gerald Mickelson, McKinzies platoon sergeant. Mickelson chuckled as he watched McKinzie still working on a truck after dark, when everyone else had gone to dinner.
Hes not afraid of getting as dirty as possible to get the job done, said Mickelson, whos from Monroe, Ga.
McKinzie attributes his attitude about work to a strong desire to put his whole heart into a job.
Its not about pleasing anyone; its about making it happen, regardless of what kind of job it is, he said in his Texas accent. Therefore, get in there, get in dirty, and knock it out. The sooner you get it done, the sooner you can get back to chilling out and relaxing.
Even though McKinzie has never minded the sweat, dust, dirt or grease required to complete a mission, he loves to get cleaned up at the end of one.
Im no prima donna, he said. I dont need a shower every night, but there is nothing better than having one at the end of a long, dirty mission.
There was a time though, when McKinzies whole life was less than cleaned up. McKinzie, his wife, Angela, and daughter, Brianna, were living in the projects and were very poor, he explained. However, just like in his work, all McKinzie needed was a good cleaning up to get back up on his feet and start over.
God really delivered me and cleaned me up from the inside out, he said excitedly. After a few years of straightening up, he decided to volunteer for the military. While he was in the recruiters office, something really caught his eye.
I saw this poster showing the double As (the 82nd Airborne Division patch) with the Airborne and Ranger tab above it. I thought that had to be pretty high-speed, McKinzie said.
Shortly after, he graduated from basic training and went to his advanced individual training to become a generator mechanic. There he was given an opportunity to fulfill his dream of earning Airborne wings.
He enjoys his work, and most of all is glad for the support he gets from his wife and daughter while he does what he loves best: getting dirty.
And also the ones in between trips, and the ones who support the ones away....
Heck, ya’ just have to love them all.
Fantastic stuff. Hoping one is elected CIC this time ‘round.
Nice story. The guys from Regiment won’t like the title.
Nice for him to go through school at his age. He had to get a waiver, anyone over 34 has to.
“where do we get such men”...?
What makes the US Military and America work are men like Mr. Mickinze.
God bless and protect them all!
I wish I could find a digital copy of this old cartoon, but it goes something like this:
A straight-leg Infantryman, standing in the field in the rain. Caption: “This sucks!”
A Paratrooper, pouring rain, wading through waist-deep water in the field. Caption: “I like the way this sucks!”
A Ranger, in the same rainstorm in the field, with water up to his neck, eating a snake. Caption: “I wish it would suck even more!”
An Army Aviator, flying low over the field exercise, peering out and down his cockpit window. Caption: “It sure looks like it sucks down there”.
And finally, an Air Force flyer in the ready room, sitting on the couch, trying to watch TV, rain pouring out the window. Caption: “What?! Cable is out?! Now THIS sucks!”
This is the type of guy you’d want to be with in a foxhole when it hits the fan.
The real soldiers know that a sufficient application of dirt and natural body oils will make a water proof covering.
Thank you for your service!
Army Ranger bump!