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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Soldiers return to patriotic Northeast Missouri

  • “Northeast Missouri - and the State of Missouri in general - are some of the most patriotic places I’ve seen in a long time,” said Sgt. Richard Malone.
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  • “Northeast Missouri - and the State of Missouri in general - are some of the most patriotic places I’ve seen in a long time,” said Sgt. Richard Malone.
    A member of the Missouri National Guard who has just begun his duties as the recruiter at the armory in Hannibal, on Aug. 25 Malone returned from deployment in Qatar to an appreciative public.
    “Everywhere I go in uniform, there is somebody constantly wanting to shake my hand and thank me for my service,” he said. “In a restaurant someone wants to buy my lunch.
    “The patriotism is just amazing,” he said. “As long as there is patriotism like this in the U.S. and parents are teaching it to their children, we will always have children willing to grow up and stand on the wall and man their post. ... I believe in the military, and I believe in the Missouri National Guard.”
    Malone was deployed with the 1137th Military Police Co. of Jackson, Mo. The 2175th MP Co. of Hannibal also was deployed to Qatar, he said, where “we all worked as part of 175th MP Battalion.” He came back from Qatar with the local soldiers.
    Deployment teaches soldiers responsibility, Malone said. “I think soldiers when they come back from deployment are more mature. They learn how to cope with problems.”
    Among things they learn overseas, he said, are maturity “and the ability to think through a problem, rather than react with an emotional response. They learn to solve the problem.” Whether it is “a financial issue or an issue over children or a spouse, the training they had in the military teaches them how to handle life problems.
    “I think our soldiers are more responsible nowdays,” Malone added. “It is a lot of responsibility to go over there and handle that equipment. That is why employers are looking for these guys when they come back. ... There’s plenty of programs out there to help the soldiers get jobs and a lot of companies are looking to hire our veterans. There’s a lot of stuff out there for our heroes to come home to.”
    Malone’s wife, Pollyanna, also is a National Guard member. She is with the 2175th Co. in Moberly. “I call her my sergeant major, because she’s my boss,” Malone joked. The couple has three daughters, Sammy, Meghan and Amy. The Malones live in Shelbina, Mo.
    Enlisted in U.S.
    Army at age 17
    Sgt. Malone enlisted in U.S. Army at age 17, while living in his native Illinois. His basic training was at Fort Benning, Ga. His first seven years of service included time in Panama, where he was stationed during Operation Just Cause.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We invaded Panama and took out Noriega in December 1989,” Malone explained. Malone was also stationed in Honduras and El Salvador.
    Later He was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., for two years, and from there to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.
    He was medically discharged for injuries received during a parachute jump. “I hurt my back,” he said. “I just didn’t land right. The military said my back wasn’t good enough for military duty.”
    This was in 1996, and he “took a 10 year break from service,” before joining the Missouri National Guard in 2007 at age 36.
    Asked to consider how different his life would have been without his military experience, Malone said “I would hate to think - I think if I wasn’t in the military I wouldn’t have the discipline and respect for others that I have.
    “My parents did a real good job of instilling a certain value system, but the military does a lot more to bring that out. ... And it is about respect and responsibility, loyalty and what it is to be a team player. I couldn’t imagine my life without the military.
    “The commercial says to parents ‘(You) make them strong, we will make them Army strong.’”
    National Guard
    will pay for college
    Malone is already busy recruiting, he said, “and proud to bring in new applicants.” If someone is interested in learning more about the National Guard, he said, “the first thing a potential applicant needs to do is come in, and we get you logged in and on a website.”
    The armory in Huckleberry Park in Hannibal is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Details can also be discussed by calling the armory at (573) 248-2435 and asking for Malone or by calling him at (618) 534-2027.
    “I will tell anyone, come in the National Guard, and it will pay for college,” Malone said. “And it will give you a whole new family of brothers and sisters.
    “Since I came into the National Guard I have been able to go all around the world. I have been to Germany, been to Haiti and to numerous schools.
    “And the glorious thing is there’s not many places I can go in the state of Missouri now that I don’t run into a fellow Guardsman.
    “They recognize me from a school we went to together or a deployment we served together. We recognize each other. Our band of brothers is not just a cliche, it really is true.”

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