After 9/11, my focus changed to that of service. We were a nation at war and I wanted to contribute. I accepted a direct commission in 2003, completed Officer Basic Course in 2004, and was mobilized and deployed to Afghanistan later that year. I served as an embedded trainer with the Afghan National Army. When I returned home, I was surprised to find I had reintegration issues with returning to my family and civilian occupation. With time and access to resources made available to me, I was able to recognize these issues and develop methods to reduce their impact.
I recently returned from a 10 month mobilization to Ft. Knox where I served as a battalion S1. While at Ft. Knox I had many opportunities to return home and was able to maintain a presence with my family. I had some great experiences and developed new friendships while at Ft. Knox. Reintegration back into my civilian profession and family life was much smoother this time around!
My purpose now for serving is earning points for retirement...kidding – actually I am at another transition point. I just completed the Captains Career Course and am trying to find balance in my responsibilities to my family, civilian profession, and the military.
Dale McCurdy instructs students during a Life Science class at Amarillo College where he also works to develop curriculum.
With the military in a new transition phase, I will reevaluate my purpose for serving in the Army Reserve. I am looking with interest at the future of the reserve component. Will we return to a strategic reserve or continue to develop as an operational force with predictable mobilization time frames (ARFORGEN)?
Tell us more about your civilian job. What does a day of work look like for you?
I am a college instructor and curriculum developer with Amarillo College in Amarillo, Texas. I teach for the biological sciences program and the education department. My classes are in the mornings, and I spend my afternoons working with other faculty on developing curriculum. Our college has received grants to redesign our general education, math, and engineering curriculum. I am the curriculum instructor responsible for facilitating this process.
I see that you trained Afghans and teach college students. Are there any similarities?
What I see in common is a desire to improve. Both my college students and Afghan National Army students were seeking to learn new knowledge and skills to improve their lives.
In what ways do you use your Army Reserve training in your civilian career?
Through my military experiences I have developed project management, time management, and leadership skills. I recognize the importance of developing Standard Operating Procedures, working within a system, and utilizing the chain of command. The military has helped me develop an understanding of how different cultures function, and how important it is to understand those cultures. I often conduct After Action Reviews after training events, and many of my counterparts comment on the effectiveness of the process...but they still make fun of me when I employ military jargon in non-military situations.
I know that you have four children. Would you encourage them to join the Army Reserve when they’re older?
The military paid for my Bachelors and Masters degrees along with a school administration certificate. I have never had student loans to pay or debt related to my education. I have friends who are still paying off student loans. I have a few months of Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits to pass on to my children. I hope my children seriously look at the opportunities the military can provide in regards to education. Actually I am hoping my children all apply for Service Academies!
What military wards have you received? And which are you most proud?
I have received the Combat Action Badge, Meritorious Service Medal (2OLC), Army Commendation Medal (2OLC), Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement medal (6th award), National Defense Service Medal (w/ bronze service star), Afghanistan Campaign Medal (w/ bronze service star), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Service Medal (w/ M device and silver hourglass), NOC Professional Development ribbon (3 device), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and Reserve Overseas Training Ribbon.
I think I worked the hardest for my Army Service Ribbon! It was the first ribbon I received — I got it along with the National Defense Service Ribbon and infantry cord after completing infantry Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Benning, Georgia in 1991. My first Army Reserve Commendation Medal was for being the distinguished honor graduate at the Primary Leadership Development Course in 1993. I am proud to wear the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
What’s one of your most embarrassing moments, Army or civilian?
I was unpacking and setting up computers at Camp Shir Zai near Kandahar Airfield. The computers came with a switch on the power supply. I was supposed to change the switch from 110 to 220. . . I didn’t.
When I plugged in the first computer there was a very loud pop. The main breaker was thrown and all our B huts lost electricity. Many of my counterparts thought there had been an attack of some sort and were beginning to react accordingly. Then they learned that 2nd Lt. McCurdy had blown a fuse by blowing up a computer. . . heard about it for the rest of the deployment.