G: Today is August 25, 1999, in Gainesville, Florida. Sergeant First Class Hendrix,
tell me about where you were born, raised, and your early life up until you joined
the National Guard.
H: I was born in Chipley, Florida, which is a town up in the panhandle. It is a small
community. I lived there approximately twenty-eight years. I went to high school
at Chipley High School. I played football, lifted weights, did the regular high
G: What first interested you in the military?
H: My best friend joined the National Guard in 1981 and tried convincing me that it
was a good thing. Eventually, I listened to him and went down and checked it out
and thought it was a good thing.
G: So, when did you actually come in?
H: I came in on August 8, 1981.
G: And you went on to basic training?
H: In October 1981.
G: Where did you go?
H: I went to Fort Benning, Georgia, as an indirect fire infantry, which is 11-Charlie.
G: Which is mortars?
H: Basically, 81-millimeter mortars, and they also touched on the 60-millimeters and
G: When you came back, your armory was where?
H: In Chipley, Florida. I was assigned as an assistant gunner for a mortar squad,
and I also had an additional duty as a truck driver, to carry the troops.
G: What unit was that?
H: It was Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 124th Infantry.
G: The 124th Infantry is in the 53rd Infantry Brigade.
G: What was your unit's mission? Did it have a mission statement?
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Jack A. Hendrix
H: To the best of my knowledge, our mission was [that] in time of need, we would go
down to the Panama Canal zone and reinforce the troops down there.
G: How was the morale and the training of the Guard in the early 1980s?
H: In the early 1980s, the morale was great, and the training was great. We always
had the philosophy of work hard and then play harder in our time off.
G: Was your Guard unit well-integrated, as far as minority soldiers at that time, in
the early 1980s?
H: At that time, in th early 1980s, I believe it was for the small community. You
know, based on the demographics up thee, it was mostly whites and blacks, and
we had a good proportion of each.
G: That fairly represented the community?
H: I believe so.
G: Did you have any times of state call-ups or active duty time during the early
H: I believe in 1980, [they] wenty down to Miami. They had some riots. Then, there
were several times when some of the local rivers would flood. They would call us
up, and we would be ready to either evacuate people or fill sand bags.
G: Describe your role when you went down for the riots.
H: Basically, some of my friends said their role when they went down-that was just
prior to me getting in-was to guard local businesses to keep people from looting.
They said it was a tense time down there. They work their flak jackets. It was
pretty scary for them, they said.
G: During the early 1980s, did you have any unique training opportunities? Did you
go to Panama or JRTL [Joint Readiness Training Center]? What kind of training
did you do?
H: During the early 1980s, it seemed like about every other year, we would rotate
down to Panama to do training down there. We would go through the jungle
warfare training, which was some excellent training.
G: How long would you go down for when you went to Panama?
H: Fifteen days.
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Jack A. Hendrix
G: It was still fifteen days?
H: Yes, sir.
G: You said the training was good in the early 1980s. Did you feel like the Reagan
administration, or the Reagan build-up, had anything to do with how the National
H: I think it did, because dollars run everything. I think he put quite a bit of money
into the military in general, so I think it did help us.
G: Did you see the Guard improve during the 1980s or maintain your unit in any
H: Our unit maintained its strength throughout the time that I was in there, and that
was all the way through the 1980s.
G: Describe what positions you held through the 1980s as you progressed up.
H: Initially, like I said, I was an assistant gunner for the 81-millimeter mortar. Then I
moved up, and became an E4 [Specialist], a gunner for the 81-millimeter mortar.
Then, in 1985, I got promoted to E5 [Sergeant] and became a squad leader for a
G: E5, being a sergeant?
H: Being a sergeant, correct. Then in 1990, there was an E6 [Staff Sergeant] slot
open in the rifle platoon. I competed against it, and I was selected for rifle
platoon squad leader. I stayed in Chipley, probably, another year, and then I
went to Camp Blanding. I served down at Camp Blanding as an assistant supply
sergeant for the military academy. Then, while I was at the academy, I was
transferred over to assistant instructing for PLDC, which is your "primary
leadership development course." A basic non-commissioned officer course, and
your levels of education to get you promoted. That is pretty much in the early
1980s that I did.
G: Now, E6 is staff sergeant?
G: You talked about the education training, the PLDC and the basic non-
commissioned office course. Describe a little bit about how the National Guard
handles educating its enlisted soldiers.
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Jack A. Hendrix
H: Basically, the way that you get promoted in the National Guard up until a
sergeant is, you have to be selected to go to the primary leadership development
course. Usually, you have to be in the military anywhere from three to four years,
maybe a little bit longer, depending on a vacant slot. At the primary leadership
development course, they teach you how to be a leader, how to do infantry
tactics, how to take care of your soldiers, and some of the administrative work
that you need to do.
G: How do they handle going? What is the length of training and such as that?
H: Usually what happens is, you go in lieu of AT [Annual Training]. Instead of going
to your annual training, you will go for two weeks either to Camp Blanding, which
is where they used to teach it, or to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for two weeks
[that is where they send most people now]. Then, you are "a graduate" if you
pass the course of your primary leadership development.
G: Are there any requirements before those two weeks of training. I know on active
duty, it is a month for PLDC. Is there any correspondence, or is it just strictly
H: No. It is a condensed two weeks. Prior to going to the training, the unit will make
sure that you do meet the height and weight standards and that you can pass
your physical fitness test, because these are things that you know they check
when you get up there.
G: That two weeks is in lieu of the two weeks you would have gone off with your unit
for their annual training?
H: Sometimes it is. It depends on the dollars that the state has at that time.
Sometimes, you can do both.
G: Once a soldier makes sergeant, then the next school is the basic non-
commissioned officer course. Describe that a little bit.
H: The basic non-commissioned officer course is just a little bit more of what you
learned, to reinforce your leadership tactics and things to check for, like when
you are in the field, to make sure that the soldiers are taken care of. It is
basically just to re-emphasize your leadership and your caring attributes.
G: How important are these schools to get promoted in the National Guard? Are
they a requirement?
H: They are a requirement. To be promoted to the rank of E5, which is a sergeant,
you do have to be a graduate of [the] primary leadership development course.
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Jack A. Hendrix
The same way with basic non-commissioned officer course, that gets you
promoted to E6, which is staff sergeant. Then, your next one is [the] advanced
non-commissioned officers course. Then, after completion of that, if you are in a
slot, then you can be promoted to sergeant first-class.
G: Where is the basic non-commissioned officer courses at?
H: Either at Camp Blanding or at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. It is also a two-
week course, and it is pretty much the same thing.
G: Where is the advanced non-commissioned officer courses at?
H: At the same place.
G: And it is the same two-week requirement?
H: Yes, sir.
G: Going on up past master sergeant, do National Guard NCOs go to the sergeant
G: Do they go to the same one that active duty guys go to?
H: There are a couple of different ways that you can go to sergeant majors
academy. You can either do the resident course or the non-resident. You can
do your correspondence courses for a certain amount of time, and then you go to
a two-week course. Or, you can actually go to the schoolhouse. I want to say it
is a month long, or maybe even longer than that.
G: Sergeant major being the highest enlisted rank?
G: And usually, a sergeant major serves at battalion level or higher as the senior
non-commissioned officer in that organization?
H: Yes, sir.
G: We stopped at when you were instructor there, at Camp Blanding. Go beyond
that, up to where you are at now in your career.
H: After I was an instructor, it was during the time of Desert Storm. Just after Desert
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Jack A. Hendrix
Storm, they sent vehicles back to the States to be refurbished. I started out on a
project called the SWA [Southwest Asia] Red Compound, which was a
redistribution center for the vehicles that went in theater, or over to southwest
Asia. What we did was, we refurbished the vehicles, and then we put them back
into the system, either into the active duty or into National Guard or Reserve
units throughout the world.
G: Where was this at?
H: This was located at Camp Blanding. We had approximately, I think, 1,700 pieces
of equipment that were there and that were processed through that facility.
G: How big a staff did that take?
H: Initially, there were thirty-five of us who were hired on, and we were just put on
state active duty. Then, as the program got bigger and bigger, then they
basically put us on Title 10, which was active army for about a year. There were
approximately 150 or 160 soldiers who were National Guardsmen who were
converted to Title 10 or active duty to do that.
G: Did they use any contractors, or was it all pretty much National Guardsmen who
were doing the work?
H: It was a little of both. There were certain things, such as the painting, due to the
lack of facilities and because of the type of paint that we used, we did contract
that out. There were certain other things, like drive shafts, that they would just
send out in a bulk load, and then they would be sent back refurbished.
G: But, all of you who worked in Camp Blanding were primarily National
G: You did not have a maintenance background, as far as an MOS [military
H: Initially, I did not, but then I went to school for track vehicle repair. I think that
helped me a lot. My function at the compound was quality control. You know,
the vehicles had to pass through my section before they were finally sent out
back to the units.
G: Up to this point, you were a normal, so to speak, National Guardsmen. At this
point, you went full-time.
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Jack A. Hendrix
G: Going back to Desert Storm, what do you recall the National Guard's involvement
was, as far as who they deployed. I know you did not go yourself.
H: I do know that they deployed several units from the state of Florida. There was
an MP [Military Police] unit that went. There was a maintenance unit that went, I
believe from Fort Lauderdale or Crystal River or Lake Wales, maybe. There
were a lot of units that were called and alerted. To the best of my knowledge, I
think there were three or four units that actually went. I believe the 221st EOD
went as well.
G: Explosive Ordinance Disposal, which is bomb disposal?
G: So, most of the units that went apparently were support units, not combat units.
H: Right, they were not actually combat units, which was surprising to me because
you think, well why does the National Guard have combat units if they are not
going to deploy them? My thinking is that the training that we get, even in state
emergencies, helps us.
G: Go ahead and continue on, from the point where you did your year there at
Camp Blanding. Where did your career go from there?
H: At the end, the program was winding down, and I applied for a position in
Carthage, Mississippi, and AGR [Active Guard Reserve] position as a training
NCO. I got selected and moved to Carthage.
G: Describe what a AGR is and how that works.
H: An AGR soldier is what they call at Title 32 as active guard for training. Usually,
there are two or there full-time people in each National Guard armory to do the
day-to-day functions of the things that are necessary to make the unit run,
whether it is to order supplies, do the admin to make sure that the soldiers are
paid, to develop training plans, coordinate for training, whatever is necessary.
That is what the AGR does.
G: So, the AGR is managed out of the National Guard Bureau in Washington?
G: Because I think most people would be a little bit surprised that Florida National
Guardsmen would go [out of state], but you become sort of a national asset, is
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Jack A. Hendrix
H: Right. Once you are AGR, you are basically on the federal side of the house, yet
you are still under control of the governor as well.
G: You said two or three people at each armory are there full-time. Are all of those
guys AGR, or do some of them fall under different systems?
H: Most of them are AGR. There will be a few, what they call, military technicians,
which is just a traditional soldier who has been placed in the slot. He is either a
wage grade person or GS level, general services. Most of the military
technicians are actually in the organizational maintenance shops, or the repair
sciences. [That is] mostly where we have the technicians.
G: Now, are those technicians paid by the state, or are they federal money too?
H: I really do not know.
G: So, what was your job there, in Carthage, Mississippi? Describe what a training
H: A training NCO is, basically, the one who schedules the ranges for the units to go
do their weapons firing or if they are going out for an FTX, or field training
exercise, [the NCO] makes sure that the ranges are there, [and] helps assist the
readiness NCO in administering the skills qualification tests, doing the common
task training, updating. [The NCO does] all the alert rosters, which is the roster of
everybody's name and address, and ensures that on the weekend drills that it
has been updated so if we need to contact our soldiers, we could.
G: Now, do you work in the company level or the battalion level?
H: Well, it was in an engineering company, which was almost a battalion level
element at that time.
G: So, once you go on the AGR roles, you are primarily going to stay within your
state, but you can be moved to other states?
H: Correct. Well, you can select to be moved. Basically what it is, it is like applying
for another job. There are policies, which is a stabilization tour. You know, once
you are selected in a job, you are required to stay there for eighteen months,
unless there is some specific reason, a hardship or something, where you can
move to another position.
G: Now, in the AGR, even if you moved out of state, you would remain within the
National Guard, or could you go over to the Reserve side?
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Jack A. Hendrix
H: You could go to the Reserve's side. However, you would have to do a
conditional release from the National Guard to the Reserves. Most people will
just stay in the same.
G: But, is there a similar program within the Reserves, or is it the same program?
H: It is the same program.
G: The same program. They just kind of keep it separated?
H: Well, it is not called AGR, but they are under the same guidelines as we are,
G: So, you ended your time there, in Mississippi, when?
H: I was there, approximately, a year. Then, I started applying for jobs in Florida.
That is where my family is, where my kids are. I was selected to be a recruiter in
Avon Park. So, I went to Avon Park and recruited there for about one year.
They were opening a new storefront in Gainesville, and I was selected to come
up here and ope the storefront.
G: Describe a little bit about your training. What kind of training it takes to become a
National Guard recruiter.
H: First of all, you have to be at least an E5, or a sergeant, or be in a promotable
status to be an E5. You need to be a hard charger. You need to be somebody
who is a self-starter. What they do is, they will send you to a school in Little
Rock, Arkansas, for about five weeks. At the schoolhouse, they will teach you
how to qualify people, whether they are eligible for enlistment or whether they are
not, they will teach you how to read the regulations. They will teach you all the
different forms that are necessary to be in an enlistment packet. They will also
give you a course in public selling skills because our job is that of a salesman.
Not only do we need to sell but we need to have service after the sell.
G: Little Rock, is that where the National Guard recruiting school is?
G: Do active duty guys go there too?
H: No, it is pretty much the National Guard.
G: What do you feel motivates most young people to join the National Guard now?
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Jack A. Hendrix
H: Different people are motivated by different things. However, with some of the
educational benefits that we have, especially here in Gainesville, I think our
educational benefits is what motivates, I would say, three-fourths of the people
who come in.
G: Describe some of the benefits which you are offering.
H: Well, right now, we have a 100 percent college tuition in any public college in the
state of Florida. That is up until you receive a four-year degree. We also have
the Montgomery GI Bill. The GI Bill is $251 a month if you are a full-time college
student, and it is a federally-funded program. If you score above fifty on your
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, currently, there is a $200 kicker
that we add to that GI Bill. So now, your GI Bill comes to $451 per month. There
is tuition assistance, which is a program where even after you finish your
bachelor's degree you can get 75 percent of your tuition reimbursed, up to fifteen
semester hours per year. We have the student loan repayment program, which
will pay up to $10,000 of your student loans, plus interest, during your initial
contracted period in the National Guard. You have to enlist in certain jobs. We
also have $3,000 and $5,000 enlistment bonuses for certain jobs.
G: How long have you done the 100 percent tuition in state schools? Is that pretty
H: The 100 percent tuition started in July of 1997. Prior to that, it was called the
Step Program, which was a 50 percent waiver for anybody in the Guard.
G: In addition to the educational benefits, obviously, there is a little salary benefit.
Describe a little bit, starting out at what a guy is looking at making as a salary in
the National Guard.
H: If you come straight out of high school, usually, everybody enlists as an El,
unless they had a Junior ROTC in high school. If you had that, depending on the
number of years, you could be promoted to E2 or E3 upon enlistment.
G: Which is?
H: Private or Private First-Class. El in the military, where the pay is the same
whether you are in the Guard, the Marines, or whatever, would make
approximately $117 for your one weekend a month. An E2 would make about
$127. An E3 would make about $138. An E4 would make about $148. That is
for your two days a month.
G: Getting a little off track here, what would a typical weekend be for National
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Jack A. Hendrix
H: Well, it all depends on what your job is. You know, if you were a cook, then you
would be cooking. If you were a mechanic, you would be turning wrenches.
There will be drills, however, you will not be doing your job, based on higher
headquarter requirements. You have your weapons qualification. You have your
annual physical fitness test. You have legal briefings. You usually have an open
house in December where you can bring your family to your unit and show them
the equipment that you have and some of the things that you do. The month
before your annual training, you have to pack up and make sure that you have
everything ready to go. The month after, you have to unpack, reorder new
supplies, and clean up.
G: Most weekends are spent at the armory, or do some units go to the woods on the
H: A lot, especially the combat units, spend a lot of time in the field training. Some
of the other units are more or less at the armory.
G: So, you typically come in on Saturday morning and go home Sunday afternoon?
G: Most units, if you are at the armory, you go home Saturday night?
H: Absolutely. Unless the mission requires you to spend the night, you are free to
go, usually, when the commander releases you at four or five in the afternoon.
There will be times when you have to go in on Friday night. It's called MUTA
five, which is a multiple unit training assembly. You actually get paid an
additional day for going in at six o'clock that night. In the National Guard, you get
paid four days for working two.
G: Going back to recruiting, do you find any difference in the motivation for a
female recruit versus male recruits?
H: I am not sure that there is a motivational difference. I do know that some of the
females are probably more mature, especially the younger ones, and appreciate
the benefits better than some of the males. The unfortunate thing is, in Florida,
we are limited in the jobs we can put them in, actually anywhere because of the
direct combat probability code which limits females from being in combat units or
G: Briefly name some of the jobs that would limit a female soldier.
H: Anything dealing with the infantry, combat engineers, special forces, calvary
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Jack A. Hendrix
scouts, field artillery. There are probably about, I would say, twenty-seven or
twenty-eight jobs out of a possible 200 that they would be restricted from.
G: For instance, if a female recruit wanted to be a cook or a supply sergeant, they
would be limited [because] they could not serve as a cook or supply sergeant in a
unit? It does not just keep them from the specific job, but it can also keep them
out of that unit?
H: Correct. If it is a combat unit, they cannot serve. If a female wanted to go in as a
cook in an infantry unit, she could not do it. They have to be in either a brigade
or higher level, and then they would be in a support element. It would not be a
"combat front-line unit."
G: Is there any trouble in recruiting minority recruits? Is that an issue at all?
H: It is an issue right now. We are trying to be more diversified. A couple of weeks
ago, Florida sent about eight of us down to Puerto Rico to learn how to get into
the Spanish and Hispanic market. [We learned] some tips on how to better recruit
some of our minorities. They say the Hispanics are the fastest growing minority
in the United States right now, so they are trying to give us some tips on how to
get more of them in. Some of the things that I do, personally, is I try to have
people who are from a minority help me in my recruiting efforts. That way, they
can reach out and talk to other people in their own ethnicity and help me out.
G: Has the good economy of the last few years affected recruiting at all? Have you
H: I believe it has. Any time the economy is good, you will have less people wanting
to join the military. Probably, most people join the military for the benefits. If the
economy is good and you have a good job, then you will probably find a way to
pay for your college or whatever, so you do not feel the need for the military.
G: What kinds of goals or quotas, so to speak, are you required to fill?
H: As a storefront office, I am required to put in three soldiers per month. They also
want us to put in at least ten high school students and at least one person in the
officer candidate school per year. So, my total number for the year would be
G: Briefly describe the officer candidate school in the Florida National Guard.
H: Basically, [for] our officer candidate school, you have to have at least sixty
college credits to join, to get into it. You have to have completed basic training.
If you have never been to basic training, they will send you to basic training and
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Jack A. Hendrix
then bring you back. In April, the OCS, or office candidate school, program
starts. You go one weekend a month for approximately eighteen months. During
that time, you also have two fifteen-day annual training periods. You are
promoted to the rank of E6, which is staff sergeant, while you are going through
the program. If you complete the eighteen months, then you are commissioned
as a second lieutenant.
G: You said that the Gainesville office is a good office. Are there differences,
regionally, within the state, as far as how hard it is to recruit?
H: There probably are, and they are based on demographics. Of course, if you are
in a smaller town, you have a smaller population to draw from. However, if you
are in a smaller town, then you have a smaller mission, too. So, your mission is
based on your demographics. The bottom line is, if you do your job, if you do
what they ask you to do in recruiting, you will always, always make mission.
G: What are the physical and education requirements, sort of the bottom line, for the
recruits coming into the Guard?
H: For somebody to get into the National Guard, if they are in high school, they have
to be at least a high school junior and at least seventeen. Then, they have to
have parental consent from both parents, saying that yes, they want their son or
daughter to join the National Guard. If they are out of school, then they need to
either have a high school diploma or a GED. They have to score at least thirty-
one on the Armed Services Vocations Aptitude Battery test. That is the overall
score. The score is broken down into ten, what they call, line scores. Then,
those line scores tell us what jobs you are qualified for, based on your mental
G: Physical requirements, as far as health conditions and what keeps them out?
H: There are a lot of things that could disqualify you from going into the military. If
you have ever had asthma, you are disqualified. If you are on attention deficit
disorder medication, you are disqualified. If you have been unconscious for a
period of more than five minutes, you are disqualified. A lot of these disqualifiers
are waiver-able though, so do not disqualify yourself. You know, tell the recruiter
what your problem is, and then he can get the proper documentation and send it
to the doctor, who can do a review to see whether you are qualified or not. There
is also a height and weight standard. If you are five feet tall, you cannot weigh
300 pounds. By the same token, you cannot weigh eighty pounds either. You
have to fall within a limit, and it is based on whether you are male or female and
G: In that limit, do they give you a little room to work, as far as assuming some
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Jack A. Hendrix
weight is going to come off in basic training? Are these the same standards they
are going to have to maintain when they are in the Guard?
H: Actually, when you enlist, there is a procurement standard which is a little bit
higher, which means you could weigh five or six pounds more than after you
have completed basic training. Once you have completed basic training, then
the standard is a little bit more stringent.
G: What about criminal or drug backgrounds?
H: we definitely do a local check to find out if you have been in trouble with the law.
We even check juvenile records. So, if you have ever been in trouble with the
law, be honest and tell us about it. If you have been in trouble dealing with drugs
or drug paraphernalia, then there is a good chance that you are not going to get
G: But, it is kind of a judgement call that is made above the recruiters?
H: Right. What we have to do is, if you have been convicted of any felonies, and we
consider even drug paraphernalia-the state of Florida does for the National
Guard-a felony, we have to run a waiver. Any drug waivers, the adjutant general
himself has to personally talk with the soldier and find out what went on.
G: How many years is your standard enlistment contract for?
H: A standard enlistment in any branch of the service is eight years. Everybody has
an eight-year obligation to the military. Now, there are different ways that you
can do this. To get any educational benefits from the National Guard, you have
to enlist six years in the National Guard and two years in the inactive Ready
Reserve. Now, the inactive Ready Reserve is just a list that in a time of need,
just prior to them recalling the draft, they could pull you out of the inactive Ready
Reserve and put you back in a drilling unit. If you do not want any educational
benefits, you can sign up for three by five, three years in the National Guard, five
years in the inactive Ready Reserve.
G: Briefly describe the process that a typical recruit goes through from the time he
comes in your office until he reports to his unit.
H: Initially, when somebody comes into your office, you need to find out what their
needs and wants are. If you can find out what they need, why did they come to
the Guard, then you can provide them with a feature that the Guard has to fulfill
their need, then you can probably get them to enlist in the Guard. Once you
determine that they need money for college or they need extra money, then you
support that. You know, you agree that money is important or that college is
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Jack A. Hendrix
important and tell them what you have. Then, you start gathering information.
We have an acronym called APPLE MD. That is how we pre-qualify people. We
want to find out what their Age is, Prior service, their Physical condition, their
height and weight, Law violations, Marital status, and Dependency. Once we
have pre-qualified them there, we want to give them the Armed Services
Vocational Aptitude Battery test. That will tell us whether they are mentally
qualified to get into the military. At that same time, we are also going to get them
to sign a local release so we can do a records check to make sure that they are
not going to be on America's Most Wanted tonight.
Upon doing that, if the record check shows up good, if they pass the Armed
Services Aptitude Battery test, then we start gathering source documents-their
birth certificate, their driver's license, their social security card, and, if they are
married, their marriage certificate. If they have prior service, their DD214 or their
discharge papers, to make sure they are eligible to get back in. Once we have
gathered all that up, then we look for a job for them to do in a unit they want to go
in. We brief them on where the location of each job is at, and then they decide
on what they want to do. We fill out their contract, and we have them sign it and
initial it. Then, we get them scheduled to go to Jacksonville to take their physical.
At Jacksonville, they take a full physical, a hearing test, and an eye test. They
will draw blood, and check for HIV and drugs. They do a urinalysis. They make
sure they have a range and motion in all of their joints. Then, they go through
asking them security questions, about law violations, about drug use, about
tobacco and caffeine use. At several different stations there at the military
entrance processing station, they ask you about this. They will reiterate that, due
ot the penalty of law, [there is] a $10,000 fine and five years in prison with hard
labor if you are lying to us. So, they want you to tell them the truth. As
recruiters, we want you to tell us the truth, too. So, if you tell us the truth, then
you should be okay over there.
Once you have been through your physical and everything checks out fine, you
will go through the ceremony of the oath of enlistment where you pledge
allegiance to the governor of the state of Florida, or whatever state you are in,
and to the president, because the National Guard has the two missions, the state
and the federal missions. Once that is accomplished, what we do is we carry you
by your unit prior to your first drill so you know who the full-time people are and
you know how to get there, so there is no excuse for your not showing up at your
first drill date. When we carry you by, they will try to measure you to get your
uniforms, your boots, and a cap. That way, on your first drill, they can issue them
to you. You can be integrated into the National Guard as another soldier so you
are not standing out like a sore thumb in civilian clothes. They will also assign
you a sponsor. He or she is going to be your best buddy throughout the first two
or three months of drill. They will do OJT, On the Job Training. They will help
teach you what you need to know in your job even before you go to basic
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Jack A. Hendrix
G: So, you typically go to basic training and your advanced individual training some
two or three months after you have, basically, been processed into your unit.
H: Depending on what you are when you enlist. If you are a high school junior, then
you go to basic training in between your junior and senior year. If you are a high
school senior, depending on what time of year it is, you usually go in the
summer, too. If you are totally out of school, then you have the option of
choosing between within thirty days of shipping [or] up to nine months. So, within
nine months, you are required by regulation to ship to basic training.
G: If a soldier has an exceptionally long AIT [Advanced Individual Training], can they
split it? Do they have to go back to back basic [training] and AIT?
H: They can. Usually, our split option is designed for high school juniors, for
seasonal employment, or even maybe a college student. Depending on why you
joined, the split training might not be the best option for you, because you are not
eligible for the GI Bill and you are not eligible for the college benefit until you
have completed your basic and job training.
G: Do you have much trouble with recruits not making it through basic and AIT? Is
that a problem?
H: It is not a big problem, especially from this office because I try to screen
everybody as close as I can. There are, from time to time, people who will fail
out due to a physical problem up there. They will either hurt their knee or might
hurt their back somehow on the run and decide this is not what they wanted to
do, and they will let them get out.
G: On that same issue, once a guy gets into the National Guard, what are the
penalties for not abiding by your enlisted contract. For instance, a guy just stops
going to drill. How does the National Guard handle that?
H: There are a lot of different options they have. First, his first line leader will try to
contact him at drill and find out what happened. Maybe it was just as simple as
his car broke down, and he could not get to a phone. If that is the case, they
reiterate that you need to be here, you need to call us, do whatever it takes.
Look at us as a part-time job; if you do not go to a part-time job, they are going to
fire you. Well, we are pretty much going to do the same thing, with other
penalties. They can send the local sheriff's department to pick you up and lock
you up. They can give you an Article 15, which is to take money out of your pay.
It is all up to the commander, as far as what level of punishment that he wants to
impose on you and, probably, the level of punishment is going to be directly
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Jack A. Hendrix
related to the number of drills that you have missed.
G: When they work with the local sheriff like that, what do they charge him with?
How does that work?
H: They pick them up for being absent without leave from the military.
G: So, it is the same as it would be if they were absent without leave from active
H: Correct, and what usually happens is they spend the weekend in confinement,
and they do not get paid. So, it would have benefitted them to go to drill and get
G: What federal assistance do you receive for National Guard recruiting? Is it pretty
much funded federally?
H: Pretty much. Most of our funding is federal, from the National Guard Bureau in
D.C. Our advertisements are on a blanket advertisement. It is not generic
[specific] to each state. The national slogan is You Can. So, everything you see
is going to have the You Can on it-the 1-800-GO-GUARD or the web address to
the national center. Then, all the leads, or the people who call in, or write in, or
phone in, are sent to the appropriate states within twenty-four hours.
G: Do you interact or cooperate any with the active duty recruiter in town?
H: I do. Basically, we are not after the same people. The people who I want are
wanting a part-time job and to stay home. The people he wants are the people
who want to get out of town and stay gone for a while. There are certain things
that he cannot enlist that I can and, in the same token, me to him. So, we do not
try to cut each other's throats. We tell then what we have and we give them the
benefits, and then it is up to them to decide which one they want to go into.
G: Do the Army and Air National Guard share? Do you recruit for the Air National
Guard, or how does that work?
H: No, I recruit only for the Army National Guard. We do have an Air National
Guard recruiter at Camp Blanding.
G: So, it is different?
H: It is different, the Air National Guard falls under the same standards as the Army
National Guard, as far as benefits and everything.
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Jack A. Hendrix
G: Now, are they controlled by the National Guard Bureau? There is not a separate
Air National Guard Bureau?
H: No, it is just the National Guard Bureau. Whoever is at the top, the general up
there, could either be an Air National Guard or Army National Guard, but he is in
G: But, in the Air National Guard, they wear Air Force uniforms and [go through] Air
Force training. Everything is Air Force. In the Army National Guard everything is
Army-uniforms, training, and all. But then, they just fall under the same
H: National Guard, correct.
G: Under the governor.
G: Through the years, how has your service with the National Guard affected your
family, with a lot of time away from home and such as that?
H: There have not really been a whole lot of times that I have been gone for any
extended period of time, except if I was going to a school or maybe the two-week
training. Being in the Guard, we have been briefed on getting our family ready, in
case this happened or whatever. My family supports me in anything that I do.
Usually, at each armory, they have a family support network, whereas if people
are deployed, then they have other people that they can call. So, in each unit,
there is a network of people who will help you if your spouse or your brother or
father or mother is gone. To answer any questions, you always have the support
of the full-time people. The National Guard recruiters actually, if the unit was
deployed, would be the ones who would set up what they call the family
assistance center. We would help with pay problems or anything involved. If the
wife's care broke down, we have a list of garages and mechanics who have
agreed to do it at a lower rate, just to help us out.
G: What was your civilian career before you became full-time in the National Guard?
H: I worked at a church furniture factory. I used to build church furniture, pews,
pulpits, tables, altars. We used to install them in churches throughout the
G: And that was there in Chipley?
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Jack A. Hendrix
G: Did your service with the National Guard affect your civilian job at all? Did you
have problems in that regard?
H: Not at all. I never had a problem with my civilian employer letting me off. I
always notified him about my annual training coming up, and there was never a
problem. Most times, civilian employers look at the Guard as a positive thing.
Because in time of need, if a hurricane hit, they would want us guarding their
business, and that is what our job is, so we usually do not have a problem.
G: Do you try to set your annual training, like a year ahead so soldiers can let their
H: Right. What they have is a yearly training bulletin where one year out, you know
exactly when your weekend drills are going to be, and, pretty much, what you are
going to do at each weekend drill and your annual training. So, you are provided
with a list that you can carry to your employer and say, hey, this is when I need to
be off. Now, some of these drill dates might be subject to change, based on
range availability, but it is not a last-minute thing, like, no, we are not going
tomorrow; we are going later on.
[End of Side 1]
G: I am going to switch over and talk about training in the National Guard. What is
the primary focus of National Guard training, or at least in the units you were in?
Is it combat mission or state-type missions?
H: It is probably geared towards both of them, I would think. Because at certain
times, you are definitely wanting to keep your proficiency, as far as if you had a
federal mission. On the same hand, you do riot control training or whatever is
necessary to do your state mission, too. They try to balance it out as much as
they can. Sometimes, like last year, they called out 1,500 National Guardsmen
to help fight fires. What they did is, they put them on orders [for] three or four
days to go through a crash course of fighting forest fires. Of course, we were not
in control of fighting them ourselves, but we assisted the fire fighters. There were
things that we could do, based on that little crash course that we took, to help
G: Does the one weekend a month and the two weeks annual training provide
enough time? Do you feel like your unit was adequately trained with that amount
H: That is a good question, and it depends on the unit and the tempo of the actual
training. I do know that all of the units that I have been in, when we went to our
annual training and we had our external evaluations, we always did as well if not
better, sometimes, than the active component. I think what led to that was, once
FNG 4, Page 20
Jack A. Hendrix
again, when we work, we work hard, and when we play, we play harder. We are
not doing this everyday out of the month, so it is something new to us every time
we go. So, we are going to give it 110 percent. We are not burned out of doing
the same thing over and over and over again.
G: Do you think [that because of] the fact that the National Guard soldiers stay
longer, [they] build closer relationships, whereas the active duty guys, or the
units, are always changing? Does that make a difference?
H: I think it does. Anytime that you can develop friendships or a network of
community, you are going to stay within your safe zone, or where you feel
comfortable. So yes, I believe the Guard is family, and I believe it is a good
G: Without the daily physical training opportunities, like the active duty units have,
how does the National Guard maintain standards in that area?
H: Well, you have to maintain them on your own. If you are just a couch potato and
lie around, you know, once a year, you do have your physical fitness test and if
you fail your physical fitness test, then they place a flag on your record, which
means you cannot do any additional training.
G: In your experience, how often did you work with active duty units, or did you at
H: Usually, the only time we worked with active duty units was during our annual
training, and then they had somebody assigned to us. When I was AGR in
Carthage, Mississippi, they had an active guy who was actually in the armory
with us, assigned to the unit, to help us develop training plans and make sure
that we were on track with what the active Army was going.
G: Did you have any first-hand experiences with the drug war? I know the National
Guard is involved in that now.
H: When I was in the infantry unit, I did work in a project called Operation Guardian
where we would go down to the port in Panama City and inspect some of the
ships looking for drugs. We did this for a brief period of time. The Guard is
continually trying to fight the war on drugs. As a recruiter, what we do is we go
into the classrooms of high schools and teach people about, what we call, the
Drug Demand Reduction Program; [teaching] about the dangers of illegal drugs
and some of the repercussions that they can have on the individual and on
society as a whole.
G: Talking about the role of the National Guard in law enforcement, do you have any
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Jack A. Hendrix
personal experience in civil disturbances or performing law enforcement type
H: Personally, no.
G: Did your unit do any training in that regard?
H: We did do a lot of civil disturbance training, with riot batons and flak jackets and
G: Talk about disaster relief. Do you have personal experiences? Were you ever
called up for any disaster type situations?
H: We were called up during flooding situations to help evacuate people, when I was
in the infantry in Chipley. Like I said, now that I am in the role of a recruiter, the
primary function of all of the recruiters is family assistance. What we do is we set
up family assistance at the units to help with the families, questions that they
G: National Guard families?
G: Sergeant Hendrix, as a last question, why do you think we need to have a
National Guard? Wouldn't just a large active duty force do the job?
H: I believe one good reason to have a National Guard is [that it is a] rapid
deployment force. We are there in the local communities. We know the people.
If we need supplies, we have contacts throughout the community. We are there.
Within twenty-four hours, we are up and running, to help in the event of a flood,
hurricane, riot, or fire. Another reason is we are well-trained, and we only do it
one weekend a month so it is more cost effective. I do believe with the
downsizing of the military that they will be using the National Guard and the
Reserves more than in the past.
G: This concludes the Sergeant First Class Hendrix interview.