DOTHAN, Ala. — Ret. Army CWO 5 Joseph Roberts is like many other veterans in that a love for his country runs deeply through his veins.
As a young man, Roberts joined the Army as a way to follow in his father’s footsteps, and to have a common goal with his brother.
“As a young child, I pictured myself having a career as a physical education teacher or the coach of a baseball team,” Roberts said. “While growing up I loved sports. I played baseball and football, but as you grow up, life has many surprises, and your goals change. When I was 20, I enlisted in the Army. I received the training needed to work on helicopters, and then later on I decided to take an aptitude test to become a pilot. Twenty people took the test and two passed it. I was one of the two.”
Roberts became a warrant officer aviator in 1979. He served 26 years, achieving the highest warrant officer rank. During those 26 years, he served four tours in South Korea.
After serving many years in the Army, Roberts decided to retire and give civilian life a go. He always knew having a civilian job was not a career. Being in the military was his career.
“I was working a civilian job when 9/11 happened,” Roberts said. “I was actually a contractor for a company that dealt with supplies for the Department Of Defense, and during one of the shows I participated in, I saw several soldiers walking around and then it hit me – I am on the wrong side of the counter. I knew where I needed to be, and that was fighting for my country and defending my nation. When 9/11 occurred and the first plane struck the Trade Center, I really didn’t know what was going on. But, when the second plane struck, and then a plane hit the Pentagon, I knew our country was under attack. That’s something I will never forget.”
Roberts volunteered for recall to active duty not once, but twice.
“I volunteered for the recall because during my career in the military I never served in combat,” Roberts said. “I knew I was missing something. I wanted to do my part in fighting for my country.”
During his second recall while serving in Korea on a three-year unaccompanied tour, Roberts volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault as a CH-47 pilot and Brigade Command Warrant Officer, where he was fulfilled by serving in combat.
After 33 years of serving his country Roberts officially retired for the last time. During his career, Roberts participated in five tours in South Korea and one tour in Afghanistan.
“If I was younger, I would still be active in the military,” Roberts said. “My first two or three years in the military were hard and so was flight school, but from then on, serving my country was truly an honor. During my career I learned the true meaning of what is a patriot. I learned the meaning of honor and privilege. I can honestly tell you, it has been a privilege to serve my country. The best part of being in the military is you knowing you are serving someone greater than yourself. You are serving your nation.”