Why I Serve: ‘Inspired, Right Thing to Do’

By Doug Sample

Army National Guard Spec. Chris Neuenfeldt, 21, joined the military a little over a year ago is deploying to Iraq this month with the 173rd Long Range Surveillance Detachment.

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA / DoD Photo

Army Spc. Chris Neuenfeldt is following literally in his older brother’s footsteps.

After joining the Army, his older brother, Sgt. Matt Neuenfeldt, deployed to Iraq.

Now the younger Neuenfeldt, 21, who joined the National Guard a little over a year ago is headed there too, along with members of the 173rd Long Range Surveillance Detachment, based in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

"My older brother went over to Iraq when everything first started going down, and that’s kind of what inspired me to join the National Guard," he said. "I joined knowing I was going to go over (to Iraq)."

The airborne infantryman will be among 56 LCR members bound for Iraq this month as part of a third rotation of troops for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

At Fort Drum, N.Y., where the unit prepared for deployment, he spoke confidently about the mission. He said he is not afraid to go to war, because his "unit is trained and ready to go, and because he is with "the best unit in the Army."

"I knew it was coming. With the way the world is today nothing is really going to change unless we do something," he noted. "And everyone who wears the uniform is going to have to do something eventually."

However, it was more than the war on terror that brought Neuenfeldt to this juncture in life.

He joined the Army National Guard not only because of his family – besides his Army brother, his father is a Navy captain — but the Newport, R.I., native said he did so also because "it was the right thing to do" and he wanted to "give something back to his country."

"The military is something that everyone should do at least for a couple of years," he pointed out, "maybe not in combat arms, like I am with the infantry, but I think everyone should do something.

"There should be some sort of national service for everyone, if not in the military, the Peace Corps. You get so much from America, you get so many freedoms, I think everyone should give back a little bit.

"This is my way of giving back a little bit for what the country has given me."