As we celebrate our nation’s independence, let’s also give honor to those local men and women who are actively serving our nation all over the world. According to data from governing.com as of September 2017, North Carolina had one of the highest numbers of active and reserve military personnel. As of that date, 112,951 were serving in the Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Navy, or the Coast Guard; 91,175 were classified as active, with 21,776 in the reserves.
Meet two of our local military currently on duty who represent a vast number of others from our state. Each person is special, and we are grateful for the willingness of all of them to stand and protect our rights and freedoms.
Austin Carl McMullen, son of Maria and Wayne McMullen, joined the U.S. Army in March of 2017. He completed his basic training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and is now a Private First Class (PFC). Austin’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) is intelligence analyst. “Austin graduated from Reynolds High School and was in their ROTC program. He wanted to join the military all through his high school years,” Maria shared. “Our family has a history of service. One of my brothers was a Marine, four other brothers were in the Army, and my dad was also in the Army. We are so proud that he wanted to follow our family tradition in serving our nation.” Maria and Wayne attended Austin’s graduation at Ft. Sill. After graduation, Austin was transferred to Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, for Advanced Individual Training (AIT) training. He was stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas, prior to his deployment overseas. “As a mom, of course, I worry,” said Maria. “However, we know that God will protect him and all the other service men and women.” Maria shared that she enjoys spending time putting together special packages from home filled with goodies and practical things that he needs, and that remind him of home. Sharing a taste of home with his buddies is common so she packs each ‘care package’ with that in mind. “Supporting our loved one is so important when they make the decision to join the military. Letting them know how proud you are of them, that you are praying for them, and that you support their decision is critical.”
Taylor Ray Idol, son of Kristi and James Idol, joined the U. S. Marine Corps in 2016. He currently holds the rank of Lance Corporal. Taylor completed boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, and then transferred to Camp Lejeune. His MOS is in the infantry as a rifleman, and he served as a scout with the Second LAR. Taylor completed his first deployment in September 2017 and is currently back at Camp Lejeune. Before his return to the US, he had the opportunity to participate in a desert survival school in Africa. Taylor graduated from West Forsyth High School where he played baseball and was all-conference and all-state. He attended WSSU on a baseball scholarship for two years prior to enlisting. “Taylor always wanted to be a Marine,” James shared. Taylor is following his family’s tradition of military service; his dad was a Marine in Desert Storm and Operation Restore Hope, and his grandfather was in the Army and served in Vietnam. “Taylor always had a servant’s heart. He joined just because he wanted to serve his country,” explained his parents. “He’s a quiet person by nature and doesn’t look for fanfare, he just wants to be of service to his country. We know that God will be with him through whatever comes across his path.”
As we celebrate our freedoms, take a moment to thank our service men and women, as well as their families for their service to our country. Their willingness to serve keeps us and the freedoms we enjoy safe. Thank You For Your Service! God Bless the USA!