Homecoming planned for retired Army sergeant major
The (Athens, Ala.) News Courier/MCT
ATHENS — The Limestone County Sheriff’s Department plans to welcome home a brother, friend, soldier and Athens resident who has served the Army with distinction for 30 years.
Sheriff Mike Blakely and staff will welcome Sgt. Major David Marbut home to Athens at a retirement party from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Sheriff’s Rodeo Arena on Alabama 99.
Marbut is the brother of Capt. Vanessa Rich, operations officer for the Limestone County Jail, and a friend to sheriff’s department employees.
As Marbut prepares for retirement, he reflects on his love for and dedication to, the U.S. Army.
“When I put on the uniform and raised my right hand, I became part of a great organization called the United States Army,” said Marbut, deputy director of the Learning Innovation Office, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, Ariz. “I chose the Army—it didn’t choose me, so I did my best while I served,” he said.
Col. Jeff Jennings, deputy commander of training for USAICoE, said Marbut is completing his tremendous career the way he began it, by serving his nation and making a difference. “Across his three decades of selfless service, he has served at every level, trained future generations and led young soldiers in combat operations,” Jennings said. "As he concludes 30 years of service, he does so as deputy director of the Learning Innovation Office, an organization dedicated to educating those young men and women who themselves aspire to achieve what Sgt. Maj. Marbut has achieved. His legacy will live on through them.
Marbut never anticipated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the difficult jobs he would take during his Army career. Both were catalysts for his promotions. His first deployment to Iraq was in 2004 for 12 months. His most rewarding time in the military was when he served as a first sergeant from 2005 to 2008.
“I trained and took a military intelligence company comprising 88 soldiers downrange and brought all 88 back alive,” he said. “We were moving all over Baghdad, Ramadi and Taji during the 15-month deployment.”
It was also during this deployment that insurgents shot down a helicopter carrying Marbut and his commander. Both survived the crash.
“These types of experiences build bonds and camaraderie among fellow soldiers that few outside the military can comprehend,” he said.
Marbut also deployed to Bosnia in 1995 for nine months and later, in 1999, for seven months. Part of a soldier’s connection with fellow servicemen is the shared feelings of missing family while on deployments and working in the field.
“It hurts when you don’t see your wife for 15 months,” he said. “I missed her so much. I also missed so much of my kids’ childhoods.”
During a mission in the middle of a dangerous part of Baghdad, Marbut said he wondered if he would ever meet his first grandson. “We happened to stop at the JSS (Joint Security Station) and I called home and was told my daughter, Kristin, was in labor,” he said. “In the back of my mind, I was thinking that something is going to happen and I will never see my grandson.”
Love got him through
He credits his family’s love and support for his Army success, adding they are “Army family strong.”
“The military offers families a good life,” Marbut said. “Our first duty station was in Hawaii, and we later spent nine — years in Germany. We did a lot as a family that most people don’t get the opportunity to do, which included traveling all over Europe. In addition to Fort Huachuca, the family also lived in Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas.
Growing up in a military family, Marbut’s son, Joel, surprised few family and friends when he announced his plans to join the Army. Lt. Joel Marbut and his wife, Jordan, are stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.
“I look forward to my son experiencing the same kind of disciplined military I grew up in almost three decades ago,” he said. “If I had my way, we would revert back to starched uniforms and spit-shined black boots.”
The Army is looking to bring back some of the discipline that has been curtailed over the last 11 years because of the wars, he said.
Although leaving the Army culture and the LIO will be difficult, Marbut said he has no regrets.
“If I was 18 years old, I would join the military all over again,” he said, “Someone recently commented about my upcoming retirement, stating I have made a big impression on a lot of people. I think it’s the other way around—a lot of people have made a big impression on me and I’m better because of them.”
Following his retirement on Sept. 1, Marbut and his wife, Melissa, will return to their hometown of Athens. He plans to work as an Army civilian for Redstone Arsenal.
“We’ve really been away from our families for the last 30 years, so it will be good to be home,” Marbut said.
Distributed by MCT Information Services