I was born to a middle class family to parents who were products of the sixties. My dad, a career military man, was a Vietnam Veteran and his experiences really shaped our family in every way. My mother was, and still is, a very simple woman with old fashion ideas and beliefs. Early in her adult life she believed that women raised kids and took care of the house while the man worked and provided for the family. She was staunchly conservative and to this day believes that there is only one network on the TV, and that is Fox News. My dad was a fairly conservative man, but he was a realist that had seen as much bad this world had to offer as much as it had good. One of things I remember most about my father was his belief that everyone should be treated equally regardless of race, economic status, or even racial preference. He even made a point of it numerous times when I was a child to treat people equally regardless, and the point really stuck with me.
I was born in the early seventies in a very small rural farm town in the Southern United States. I had a very close family and both sets of my grandparents lived within several miles of my childhood home. My grandparents played an integral part raising me and were very active in the decision making about how I would be raised, moreso than most I would think. I attended a private prepatory school from Kindergarten through graduation. When I graduated from highschool, more than 2/3s of my classmates were the same ones I started school with in kindergarten. As I look back on this I find out of the norm and I believe it play a part in shapping my thoughts as an adult. Throughout school I middle of the road, average I guess you could say, in all aspects of my childhood. I wasn’t popular but I wasn’t unpopular. I didn’t make all As and Bs, but I didn’t fail either. The only aspect in which I really stood out in school was sports. I was an excellent football player and was recently voted one of the best defensive players in school history. Looking back 20 years plus after my high school days I see only one problem and that was I really didn’t have any drive or ambition. I was a dreamer, just like most kids, but I believed that my dreams would knock on my door soon after adulthood and I didn’t need to do anything before then except listen for the doorbell. This really effected me soon after highschool. I enrolled in a small local college, but that didn’t last long enough to learn how to get from one class to the next. For a few months I bounced around from one job to the next. My mother was finally growing weary of the decisions I was making (her and my father had divorced by this time) and I had worn out my welcome just about everywhere I had worked or visited so I decided I would join the Army.
Joining the military was an easy decision for me, I had admired my dad for his years of service and the community looked up to him as well. When I signed my name I knew that I would have to change somewhat and I believed I was prepared to do so. When I arrived at basic training I kepted my mouth shut and did everything that was asked of me. I pretty much became an average soldier just like the previous part of my life. I wasn’t the best and I wasn’t the worst, right in the middle. Then one day, with about two weeks left with basic training, something inside me changed. It was like the cliche “light switch”, I woke up one morning with a totally different mind set, and an ambition and drive that I had never felt before. When I was assigned to my initial training, which was one of the more intense academically and technically in the Army, I had a drive to be one of the best. I studied when other didn’t, I read manuals and did things that other soldiers thought was crazy. Before I knew I had graduated as one of thetop in my class. I had never finished anything at the top before. When I went to my first duty station and my first depoloyment, I was definitely the “alpha -male” of the bunch and was a leader on and off duty. Eight thousand miles away from home I had friends who depended on my to make their daily decisions for them and guide them through life. I welcomed that responsibilty and I was humbled by the faith my friends peers, and other placed in me. I had a very successful Army career and was well thought of by my peers, supervisors, and commanders, but after almost five years I was ready for something different. I was on a quest for knowledge, understanding, and to some extent success that I just didn’t believe the Army could provide. I believed that the army, as much as I loved it, was keeping me from my potential. As I look back on leaving the Army I know it was the correct decision, but I still find some sadness on having to leave a way of life I loved so much. I won’t call it regret, just sadness.
Immediately after being honorably discharged from the military, I used the GI Bill and the Army College Fund and enrolled in a small University about 60 miles from where I grew up. I studied social sciences and political science. I had a drive to be the best in my class that kept me head and shoulders above most of my classmates. Six to eight months after enrolling in college I accepted a job as a police officer in a small town near the college. I sometimes worked 40 to 50 hours a week as a uniformed police officer, while maintaining a 4.0 with at least 15 hours a semester in college. Because I had taken some college while in the Army, I was able to graduate in two years. During my college days I work for a police department, I was a professional fire fighter, and I even worked for a Sheriff’s Department as a Rescue Technician on River and Lake Patrol Division. While in college, I became a certified SCUBA diver and paid for numerous advanced rescue and search & recovery classes out of my own pocket. I used these classes to pad my résumé and help me with job opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have. After graduating from college I applied for a job in one of the larger police departments in the Southeastern part of the United States. I was accepted and was assigned to the next recruit class. Although I was already a certified police officer, it was this department’s policy that all new recruits attend their police academy (I was the last recruit to fall under this policy). Again in the police academy I had a drive to excell, and did just that. Halfway through the police academy I was selected as the class leader and president of the class. I graduated as one of three distinguished honor graduates, and as the top academic honor graduate in my class. I was chosen by the training academy director to give a speech at graduation. During the graduation ceremony I was approached by all precinct commanders and offered a spot in their precinct. Not wanting any prefrential treatment I let the training staff choose my assignment. After graduating from the academy I had a very distinguished career as a police officer in this major police department. During my time in the patrol division, I was awarded numerous medal for valor and other things but probably the award I am the most proud of is the first Life Saving Medal I received. It is a story unto itself so I’ll save it for another day. During my time on this major police department, I continued my quest for knowledge. I attended as many advanced law enforcement classes as I physically could. I paid for most of them out of my own pocket until I had enough classes and time as a police officer until the state training academy ask me to be an associate instructor. When I joined the staff at the police academy they asked if I would like to be paid for my services or attend classes for free. I chose to take the free classes in lieu of pay. I continued to do this, worked various assignments and prepared myself for bigger things. Eventually I was offered a position as a Special Agent with a state police agency. I loved the police department I worked on and again I hated to leave, but I thought it was time. I was approximately 30 years old and for the first time in my adult life I would have a job that didn’t involve me wearing a uniform. Little did I know how hard that would be for me to adjust. Wearing a uniform was a bigger part of my psyche than I ever imagined. I accepted this job as a Special Agent, investigating organized crime as a member of the intelligence division. Initially I was not to be assigned to the intelligence division as it was reserved for agents with tenure a