For many service members, joining the military is a choice to serve their country and better their own lives.
For one 1st Cavalry Division soldier, it’s a choice that has run deep in his bloodline for more than 200 years.
Sgt. Robert George III, a signal support systems specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, is no stranger to the military. It’s been a part of his family’s heritage since his fifth great-grandfather fought in the Continental Army.
In fact, the Arizona-native has family members who have fought in most major armed conflicts since the 18th century, including the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I and Operation Desert Storm.
Cpl. John Albright, George’s fifth great-grandfather, fought during the Revolutionary War in Valley Forge and the Siege of Yorktown.
Albright was taken prisoner twice — once by the British for 11 months after the fall of Fort Montgomery, and once by Native Americans during the fall of Fort Stanwix, where he was forced to carry heavy loads to Canada before receiving his freedom in a trade.
After Albright received his liberty, he immediately returned to service to continue fighting for the Continental Army, George said.
“There’s no way for me to feel more proud,” George said. “The sense of pride I have in knowing the patriotism I developed is not just based on a single act of terrorism, but it’s ingrained in the fabric of my family history.”
Despite growing up with military roots, George was originally unable to enlist in the armed forces due to a medical disqualification; however, at 16, he felt a calling from a higher power, which led him down a different path after high school.
“When I was 16, I became very religious and felt a desire to go into ministry,” George said. “I did a year of junior college and then a year of seminary. Afterward, I became an interim youth pastor in Tucson, which was very enjoyable as it gave me the opportunity to help people.”
George reached a turning point in his life shortly after, when he traveled with his ministry team to ground zero after 9/11 to provide emotional support to victims and family members affected by the tragic attacks on that fateful day.
George’s sense of patriotism took over. After conflicts in multiple countries began, he decided to again try his luck with the military.
George visited his recruiter in 2004 in hopes of fulfilling his desire to serve. His mother’s 20-year career in the Air Force and her participation in Operation Desert Storm that influenced him to attempt to enlist as an airman.
He qualified to join. But after all the paperwork was complete, George was informed he would not ship out to initial entry training for 12 months. The delay, coupled with a lack of funds, made him hastily decide to pursue another branch of service.
“I immediately grabbed my paperwork and went straight to the Army recruiter next door,” George said. “The Army was able to offer me not only a job that I could utilize skills in after exiting the military, but also a duty station of choice while shipping out within six weeks. With all of that being said, my mom still pokes fun at me for not joining the Air Force.”
George went on to be stationed in California, Korea and Washington before ending up at Fort Hood in January 2011 with the air cavalry brigade.
He was deployed to Afghanistan for a year with 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, in June 2011. The deployment made him the seventh generation warfighter in his family.
“I’m extremely proud of the nine years of service I’ve had so far, and especially of my time in Afghanistan,” he said. “It feels great to build upon my family’s lineage of serving this great nation.”