Recruit follows family tradition serving country
PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- Since she was a little girl, Julia Schafer's dad has told her that joining the Missouri National Guard was one of the best decisions he'd ever made.
"My father has told me for years that the military is the way to go," Schafer said. "He'd go on and on about what a great opportunity it's been for him and the things he's done and the friendships he's made. He said it was about helping people. So when I got old enough to enlist, it felt like my duty."
After weighing several military options, Pvt. Shafer, 18, of Perryville, enlisted in the Missouri National Guard in February. She will leave for basic training on Aug. 11 at Fort Jackson, S.C., where she will study the Army's mission, history, tradition and core values.
At basic training, she will also work on physical fitness and receive instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and receive bayonet training. Basic training is nine weeks. Schafer will also learn drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, the military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches and field training exercise.
After basic, she will head to Fort Lee, Va., where she will attend advanced individual training to learn to be a military cook.
Currently, Schafer is serving in the Recruit Sustainment Program's Echo Company, which is based in Cape Girardeau. There, she is learning basic Army skills and values and becoming familiar with her new role as a Citizen-Soldier in the Missouri National Guard.
"I'm learning a lot at the RSP drills," she said. "I feel it will give me a head start and is giving me a good idea what to expect. We've been learning ranks, drill and ceremony and military etiquette. I understand that they have to break you down to build you back up."
When she returns home, she will join the 880th Engineer (Haul) Team in Perryville.
Schafer is a third-generation Soldier. Her grandfather, Zeno Schafer, served in the Army in World War II. Her father, Staff Sgt. Frank Schafer, served six years in the Army and joined the Missouri National Guard in 1993. He is currently serving as a heavy equipment supervisor in the 880th and has been deployed as part of Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Staff Sgt. Frank Schafer said he has harped on the military to his children because he believes military service offer opportunities they wouldn't get anywhere else.
"I suggested it to her for lots of reasons," he said. "She'll be able to see more of the world and the Guard is really the best job around. And my father was a cook in World War II, so I was pleased she's going to be doing the same thing as him."
Staff Sgt. Schafer said he's been giving his daughter pointers about basic and telling her how to succeed. He also is happy the Guard will help pay for his daughter's college education. She hopes to attend Southeast Missouri State University and major in criminal justice.
"I think she's made a wise choice," he said. "But she's not just in it for the college money and the travel. She's always wanted to go into the military. She knows my dad and I both did, so she wants to do it. So there's also a sense of tradition and patriotism, too."
Pvt. Schafer said she believes it's an "amazing opportunity" to start off her life after high school.
"I have plans to go to Officer Candidate School and try to become the best Soldier I can," she said. "I remember Dad taking me around the armory in Perryville when I was a kid. So after I finish basic and AIT, I'm sure it will feel like coming home."
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.