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Local soldier returns from Kuwait

Karl Hale returned from his second tour of duty in the Middle East, having served a year in Kuwait from April 2009 to March 2010.

“We deployed from Fort Hood, Texas, to Kuwait,” he said. “We spent about nine months in Kuwait. While we were there, the unit that I was assigned to was responsible for providing security for the entire northern half of Kuwait during our deployment.

“My individual responsibilities covered everything from being the supply person over three camps to running two of the busiest dining facilities in the theater as well as operating our consolidated maintenance section to keep the equipment for our unit up to speed.”

Hale, a captain with the Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department, is also a captain with the 151st Sebram battalion based in Gadsden, worked with supply support for the troops in the Middle East.

Supplies are vital in any military operation, from the equipment to the food that the soldiers eat.

“When I’m presented with an obstacle, I don’t just run up to it and say, ‘I can’t get around it,’” he said. “Because of being a firefighter, once you’re given a task, not completing it is not an option. It’s just a matter of how you’re going to complete it.”

Hale also served overseas in 2003-04 as a military police gunner working out of Baghdad, helping to provide security for railheads and expert teams that went out in search of weapons of mass destruction.

Hale, a Linden native, is a member of the Army National Guard, en-rolling at the age of 21.

“The National Guard provides more service to the community and to the nation, in my opinion, than the active-duty guys,” he said. “National Guard members are an asset to the state and to the nation simultaneously. That’s where I felt I belonged.

“I joined because I saw it as an opportunity to put something back into the community.

“That’s why I’m here (the Demopolis fire department) now,” he said. “This is what I enjoy doing. I like giving to the community.”

Hale recommended that high school students join the National Guard to help them find a trade, perhaps an entry to college.

“Go in, become something that you can bring back to the civilian world,” he said.

“You can go to college and work your way through college with that skill.”

If you do the ROTC program, after four years, they can become an officer and go active duty or continue being in the Guard and utilize the skills that they learned in college.

“That’s what I’m encouraging my children to do: Look at the larger picture; don’t just look at what’s in front of you. There’s a thousand different things that you can do in the military. Find one that you like and one that will provide you with the opportunity to make money while you’re going through college. It takes an enormous burden off of parents because now, you can pay for your own school. Uncle Sam is giving you the G.I. Bill, and you can afford to go to college.”

Karl Hale is returning from his service to his country to service to his community. It is a calling he responded to 26 years ago and one that he continues to follow today.