SENSE OF COMMUNITY: Master Sgt. Greg Stumpff and Son Zach Serve Their Country Together, Pt. 2
RANDY: Army National Guard Master Sergeant Greg Stumpff has spent 28 years as a full-tme career soldier in the Guard. He's part of the 1107th Aviation Group headquartered here in Springfield, and his job is supervising the repair and maintenance of rotary-wing aircraft, i.e. helicopters. He's been deployed overseas three times in the past 15 years: to Bosnia in 1996, to Iraq in 2005, and to Kuwait in 2009. That deployment was different: his son Zach, himself a Sergeant in the Army National Guard--and an aircraft technician like his dad--wsa deployed to Kuwait as well.
GREG: We deployed in 2009 and we returned in December 2010. I started out in Iraq, and then later I transferred to Kuwait as mission dictated--and he (Zach) was in Kuwait.
RANDY: Is it at all unusual for father and son to be deployed at the same time like that?
GREG STUMPFF: Oh, yeah, it's rare, really it is. And on this particular deployment, we had five sets of fathers and sons deployed! In the back of our minds it was a risk, because you could stand to lose a whole family, or the leaders of a family. It's a risk you've got to be willing to take.
RANDY: Even though you were in Kuwait where you weren't really in the thick of things, but...
GREG: There's still a threat level in Kuwait--it's dangerous no matter where you're at. No matter what we're doing, we always take a risk. But we all take a risk every time we get in a vehicle and get out h ere on the highway--it's the same.
RANDY: It's basically just--you have a job to do.
GREG: Yeah--have a job. That's it.
RANDY: Having a father working--and serving--full-time in the National Guard is something 23-year-old Zach Stumpff learned to take in stride.
ZACHARY STUMFF: I don't know, it was just something you kind of grew up with, you know? I was with my mom and my sister a lot growing up, just because he ws gone with the National Guard. You just thought, "Well, it's just his job--he's gotta go again," you know. That's just kind of how I looked at it.
RANDY: Zach was 13 years old when the 9/11 attacks occurred.
ZACH: I can remember where I was at: I was in 7th or 8th grade, and I know I was sitting in English class when the news came on. And I remember the rest of the day we just watched the news. I think at the time I didn't really understand what was going on. But as I got older, and I figured things out and understood exactly what was going on, I for the most part had made my mind up on which route I wanted to go once I got out of school.
RANDY: You are also now "career military"?
ZACH: Yes. I'm actually a 15 Bravo, and it's a turbine-engine mechanic. But at the same time, I work with our unit full-time as a UH-60 Blackhawk mechanic. And so I've kind of got a diverse field there. I mean, technicallyin the Army's eyes, I'm only qualified for this one position. But working out here now for three years, I've just picked up a lot of other skills and a lot of other levels of things. It was a hard decision for me to make, to join. I mean, I kind of always wanted to, but at the same time I didn't know if that's really what I wanted to do, you know. I was just kind of undecided. Actually, I was on a hunting trip up in South Dakota and I finally--one day up there I decided, "You know what? That's where I need to be," and I mean it was just a matter of weeks. Actually, a funny story: when I went to join, I wsa going to go active duty and I was actually going to go into the MPs... well, after lengthy discussion with the parents, they--we--decided that that probably wasn't the best field to go into! Well, I ended up with the National Guard and in a 15 Bravo, so I was an engine mechanic. I joined up in 2007, and I just kind of knew I wanted to work on aircraft, and be with the unit full-time and understand things a littel more. So I pretty much just kept bugging people out her until I finally got a job! (chuckles)
RANDY: When he wsa deployed to Kuwait in 2009 Zach started out as a general officer--an escort and driver for a general, as well as security detail. No mechanics work at first, but eventually he got to work in the turbine-engine shop. But he was still working general security at the same time.
ZACH: I personally was really busy--I didn't have much down time!
RANDY: Zach and his father spent 11 months in Kuwait--"boots on the ground," as they say--and then they returned to the Guard aviation repair depot here in Springfield. Kuwait has been Sgt. Zach Stumpff's only overseas deployment--so far.
RANDY: Well, do you anticipate being deployed (again)? I mean, it's always a possibility.
ZACH: Oh, yeah, yeah, I forsee another one, yes, sir. I still, for myself, have goals I would like to reach and meet. And my dad and mom have just instilled in me from the get-go that if you have those goals, you can do whatever you want.
RANDY: What do you want to do?
ZACH: In the end, I'd love to be flying those aircraft I work on.
RANDY: Sgt. Zachary Stumpff, full-time aircraft and turbine-engine mechanic for the Army National Guard here in Springfield, along with his father, Master Sgt. Greg Stumpff.