"Appreciate your family and the sacrifices many Americans make for the complete strangers in other countries."
My name is Paul Vincent Ashcraft and I was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S Army and I joined the military straight from high school. My dad was in the air force for 3 years, a couple of my uncles were in the Coast Guard, and I had a cousin in the Navy. I went to West Point in 1986. Just like anyone else who was 18, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do at the time, and West Point seemed like a good opportunity to study engineering and get a very broad education. I didn’t really have any thoughts of war going at the time. Throughout my active duty career, I served as an engineer officer, starting with 3 years in Germany. Military life was not too hard of an adjustment at all; my time at West Point really left me prepared for what came my way. I began as a platoon leader and a combat engineer. I did spend time in Haiti, Honduras, and El Salvador as part of a reconstruction team as part of the Army Corps of Engineers, but my time in Iraq was my most significant mission. Our focus in Iraq was reconstruction in a combat zone. Although it was pretty dangerous in Baghdad, our mission didn’t involve much combat; we were directing sewer, water, and electric restoration projects. Overall, I am very happy with my 26 years of service (if you count West Point). I would definitely serve in the military again, and there are definitely a couple of things I would like to do differently. I met a lot of great people from very diverse backgrounds and established good friendships with people all over the world. It certainly made me appreciate how good we have it in the United States. Appreciate your family and the sacrifices many Americans make for the complete strangers in other countries. The United States lost a lot of people in the war and it was difficult to experience fellow soldiers that were killed or injured. But the thing is, we all knew this was a possibility when we volunteered to serve in the military. And it doesn’t stop at soldiers. There are many Americans, civilian and military, that expose themselves to great personal risk to make a positive difference in the world. I encourage future generations to fully recognize what fellow Americans have done to better our country and promote American ideals throughout the world. I encourage them to follow that example in their own lives.\