5 Branches, 1 University
Southeast’s Show-Me Gold program and the Air Force ROTC are prominent organizations on campus — all five branches of the U.S. military are represented. Those features had multiple reasons for serving: familial influence, national events or to give them more time to decide what they want to do. They chose to continue their education at the same time or after fighting for our country’s protection and freedom. Four students and one faculty member are highlighted, each from a different branch in the military.
23-year-old senior Edmund Schellinger is corporate communication major with a criminal justice minor, but he’s also an officer candidate within Southeast’s Show-Me Gold program. He’s a specialist within the Army National Guard at the 1138th Transportation Company at Jefferson Barracks.
At first, Schellinger wanted to be a helicopter pilot, but now his main goal is to have some kind of leadership role.
He said he joined the Army because he wanted to make a difference.
“I could’ve done it in my civilian career, but the military offers so many opportunities for me to not only improve myself but to help protect those who normally can’t protect themselves,” Schellinger said. “I could’ve done it in any branch, but I felt like the National Guard was the right decision.”
Middle school social studies senior Jerid Jones knew serving in the military in any capacity was what he needed to do, even if it meant serving as a dental technician.
He was a sophomore in high school during September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., which cemented his decision to enlist in the Air Force after graduation.
“There really wasn’t any other option for me at that time,” Jones said.
His brother was in the Air Force when he enlisted. He served from 2004 to 2017 when he has issued a medical retirement. He ended his military career at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois as an E5 staff sergeant.
He said several of the men in his family served in the Korean War and World War II, and he’s now trying to get his son to enlist in the Air Force.
“He’s a senior in high school, and I don’t feel like he’s ready for the world because it’s going to smack him in the face,” Jones said.
The 33-year-old believes everyone who has the capability should serve in the military or some other kind of public service to give back and build skills.
Department of Engineering and Technology instructor Kevin McMeel served from 1972 to 1974 as a cadet in the Coast Guard Academy. The 65-year-old didn’t retire but remains in the Coast Guard Reserves. He saw the military as a humanitarian mission.
“The search and rescues and the helping people out and the high seas, it sounded cool,” McMeel said. “I grew up in Michigan, and of course we had the Great Lakes around there. There was a big presence there, so I got to know them probably more than the other services.”
However, his family has a presence in four of the five military branches. His father was in the Navy, one grandfather served in the Army while his other grandfather was a Marine.
He yearns for people to understand what kind of presence the Coast Guard has across the United States, not just on the coasts.
“The Coast Guard probably has a bigger presence here than any of the other branches because they are up and down the [Mississippi] river all the time. Anything that’s navigable the Coast Guard is responsible for,” he said.
26-year-old electrical engineering technologies senior Phillip Reed decided to join the Marines to give him a couple more years to decide what to do with his life. It was there that he met a group of men who would become his brothers.
“People talk about it all the time, but we did have a brotherhood,” he said. “You share a lot of stuff with those guys, stuff that you won’t even talk about with your closest friends. It’s a very open door policy between you and your Marines. It’s something you don’t really have outside [the service].”
The Jackson, Missouri, native joined the Marine Corps in 2011 but separated from the military in 2016 due to a back injury. He said he was unable to get a medical discharge.
While he served on both coasts, Reed was primarily in Georgia as an infantry squad leader.
Electrical engineering technologies senior John Glueck is from Jackson, Missouri, and being in the Navy as a submarine navigator took him all over the world. Australia was his favorite place, and he’s seen Antarctica as well. In his eight years of services, The 33-year-old has also been to Guam, China, Japan, Canada, the Middle East and South America.
He chose to join the Navy simply because he thought it was cool.
I wanted to go into something like special operations or special forces so that’s why I went that way [in the Navy],” Glueck said.
He was primarily stationed in San Diego but served for three years in Georgia on a dual base with Phillip Reed.
He plans to move away from Cape Girardeau upon graduation.
“I realized why I left, and it was because of the weather. So as soon as I’m done with school, I’m heading back to the south,” he said.