Veterans Day is officially today, Monday, and this past summer the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs posted a video on YouTube touting the fact the veterans make “ideal employees.” Evidently, McKinney ISD’s Department of Athletics thinks so too.
“Veterans bring a positive, mission-first, no-fail, no-quit attitude to any organization they join. They have been an extraordinary force for good,” said Eric Shinseki, a retired United States Army four-star general, who is secretary of Veterans Affairs, in an article he wrote for the Wall Street Journal.
As it turns out, McKinney ISD Department of Athletics employs a number of veterans, and although one, Terrie Barnes, is the budget manager for the Department of Athletics, the others are coaches. Every one of the four individuals we interviewed said that they felt they had learned life long skills as a result of their time in the service.
McKinney ISD Director of Athletics Shawn Pratt said,”The veterans employed in our department are great workers. It’s apparent that our coaches who served in the military possess leadership skills and understand teamwork. Their experience while serving in the military has obviously helped prepare them for their role as a coach and teacher. I’m proud to have each of them as part of our athletic program here in McKinney.”
Terrie Barnes, U.S. Navy
Terrie Barnes enlisted in the U.S. Navy In March of 1976 when she was just 17, months after graduating from high school early. Barnes, who grew up in the Los Angeles area, said that she enlisted so that she could take advantage of the G.I Bill that existed at that time. “I knew that’s how I was going to get to college,” Barnes said. “We (her family) couldn’t afford college.”
Serving five years active duty and five years as a reserve, Barnes spent her active duty years as a data processing tech. It was during this time that Barnes said she realized that she wanted to get a college education. “I knew from a young age that I wanted to be an accountant, and the Navy became a means to an end.”
“Serving (in the military) taught me good work skills — being to work on time and working as a team. It taught me patience and gave me the desire to do something higher with my education,” Barnes said.
Serving during peace time still came with some tough times. “Women didn’t serve on ships then, but being a minority (a female) was tough – you had to be pretty thick skinned,” Barnes said recalling an incident while participating in a co-ed softball team. “One of the sailors watching the game kept yelling something at me that was very vulgar. Being on a smaller base, the ship’s Executive Officer called the next day to apologize and he wrote the sailor up.”
Barnes met and married her husband while in the service. She said she still thinks serving in the Navy “was a good decision,” going on to say, “My grades weren’t great, so serving in the military gave me the opportunity to mature. I found I had more drive when I got in.”
Barnes’ tenure in the Navy ended in 1981 and she went on to get her Bachelors degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington.
What advice would Barnes give high school students who are considering the armed services post high school? “If you want to go to college, look for scholarships now and use that (information) to help you make your decision. The service has a good benefits for school and you can use the military to advance in life, both your schooling and yourself,” Barnes said.
Herschel Taylor, U.S. Air Force
McKinney North assistant girls basketball coach and history teacher Herschel Taylor served in the Air Force from 1976-1970 and although the Vietnam conflict was in full swing, Taylor ended up serving at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, now Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, in Germany.
Following high school graduation, Taylor entered McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. During the Vietnam era an involuntary draft was in effect. Young American men between the ages of 18 and 26 were eligible to be selected to serve by a lottery system. However, a student deferment would be granted if a draftee could show he was a full-time student making progress toward a degree. Taylor said that his progress toward a degree was halted when he didn’t make the grades required to stay in school and he suddenly found himself thrown into the draft lottery.
“I enlisted in the Air Force. I wanted to make my own choice (of which branch of the service). I knew I didn’t want to be in the Navy, for example, and I wanted to have some control.”
As fate would have it, Taylor did get that draft notice on the very morning he was to report to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, but he made it to Lackland in time. Taylor said he was a “thin, wiry kid” and that in order to weigh the 121 pounds that was required to pass the physical, he ate three pounds of bananas before he jumped on the scales, which then registered at 122 pounds. That wiry kid learned how to take direction and do menial labor as he spent his years in the Air Force “mostly loading and unloading aircraft, and playing in a band – sax, clarinet, and drums.”
“I’m glad that I was able to make some kind of decision,” Taylor said with a grin. “I had a positive military experience. I didn’t go to war, I didn’t get shot at and I would do it all over again if I could do it just like I did.”
Taylor says he was instilled with a strong sense of discipline. “We’ve all got things to do, you need to carry out your responsibilities. I learned that at times you need to do some things you don’t want to do,” Taylor said.
He also said that he learned how to discern what the mission is and to focus on that mission. Taylor said he also learned how to build a team. “These things (that I learned in the military) help me with coaching and teaching,” Taylor said. “I have to put together a team, figure out what we are trying to accomplish and understand how to find solutions to problems.” he said.
Taylor, who met and married his wife while serving in what was then West Germany, was able to use the G.I. Bill to complete his degree in education at McNeese State, graduating in 1974. He’s been teaching and coaching for 39 years.
Tim McFadden, U.S. Air Force
“I felt a call to serve,” said football and track coach Tim McFadden enthusiastically. McFadden, who teaches English at McKinney High School and is now in his second year with the school district, flew B-52s in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1998 and served eight years, flying 30 combat missions.
“There is no military service tradition in my family, but I felt a call to serve in some regard. I’m one of seven kids in an Irish Catholic family. My dad is a teacher and my mom was a church secretary. They taught us that we are served by serving others. What higher calling than serving my country?” McFadden explained.
McFadden, who is originally from Pasadena, California, said that he had already received a degree in English at Northern Arizona University where he walked on as a football player and made the team. Following graduation from college, he felt a pull to join the service. Understanding that he could enlist and become an officer due to his college degree allowed him to become a leader, he said.
But going into the Air Force and becoming an officer didn’t mean it was an easy flight for McFadden, who said he nearly failed navigator school. He said he had to learn to accept responsibility for his actions and that “it (nearly failing) was nobody’s fault buy my own.”
“I had to learn to separate failure as an action – failure is not the person.When you fail, how do you learn not to internalize that? Consequences for your actions are important,” McFadden said.
“The military teaches how to build leaders – teaches how to lead. I’m not afraid of some of the uncomfortable decisions that leaders have to make,” McFadden said, explaining that he went on to develop a leadership program while an assistant football coach at the University of Nebraska.
“Officer training school helped me learn leadership, day in and day out. Life presents you with 10 problems and you can solve five. Part of leadership is understanding and prioritizing which five. Leadership is also getting people move to same goal and learning about your limits, as well as your strengths in leadership,” McFadden said.
McFadden explained that he uses skills he gleaned from his time in the service every day while coaching and teaching.
“The leadership experience and leading leaders and understanding that I have to create leaders has helped me coach coaches. I have to developing and maintain a vision and utilize strategic and tactical planning,” McFadden said.
McFadden said he left the military because “coaching, not the Air Force, is my passion. I watched 18-year-old kids packing my parachute and realized that I could make a difference in helping to shape that kid.”
Although he says he’d “do it (enlist) again in a heartbeat – particularly if he was still single (McFadden and his wife Angela live in McKinney with their two young children), he advises young people who are considering the military to have a plan and “serve proudly.”
“I love the Air Force because of their core values – ‘Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do.’ Service before self goes against our culture, especially in today’s world,” McFadden said.
Joe Welock, U.S. Marines
Tradition called McKinney North’s Defensive Coordinator Joe Welock to join the Marines Corps. “I felt a strong sense of responsibility to carry on a family legacy. Prior to my enlistment five generations of family members earned the title of Marine,” Welock said. He spent eight years as an infantry / reconnaissance Marine.
Welock says he has no regrets about serving in the Marines and his time there helped shape him into the man he is today. His role as both team member and team leader of infantry and reconnaissance scout teams for an infantry battalion helped hone his leadership skills.
Attention to detail, high expectations and demand for success are the foundation of the Marines, Welock said. This foundation is a part of him as he goes about his duties as a teacher and coach. Welock expounded, “I expect 100 percent effort out of my athletes. I believe perfect practice makes perfect and that we cannot ‘rise to the occasion’. In the Marines, there is a phrase: You don’t rise to the occasion, but you fall back on the highest level of training that you have had. I try to employ and ingrain the same mindset and attention to detail in my athletes. In football, as in any other area of life, when one faces adversity, you fall back on the highest level of training that you have. I believe you must attack the challenge that is ahead of you in a professional manner, be enthusiastic about your approach, work together as a team, and give 100 percent. Because when you are out there on that field, all you have are your brothers beside you fighting small three to five second battles where you must depend on each other to do their own individual job to accomplish the mission – win.”
Welock said that he felt the training, missions, the “what ifs” are difficult, but being away from loved ones and a familiar, warm and welcoming environment left him with what he calls “a sense of void.” That’s why the sense of brotherhood and “Espirit de Corps” – the feelings of loyalty, enthusiasm, and devotion to the Marine Corps is such an important part of the organization.Welock said he ended his service with the Marine Corps because he knew his future wife Amber would not make a military wife because of her career as an attorney. He followed in her footsteps and graduated from the University of Texas in Austin.
His time in the military has left him with some work habits that he feels are beneficial to his athletes. “Every day I come to work and pride myself on being the same guy, coaching with the same intensity, not matter what. I will demand and expect the same effort and attention to detail day one of two-a-day practices all the way to the last day of the year. Why? Because the athletes need to see a model of consistency. In today’s world, this is not the norm,” Welock said.
Advice for soon to be high school grads? “This is huge decision,” Welock said. “One that can shape your future positively, or can leave a bad taste in your mouth.Make sure that you are joining for the right reasons. Do some soul searching and make sure that this is the direction that you want to commit yourself to going for four or more years.”
|Jeff Jacobsen||McKinney High – Head Girls Golf||Army|
|Monty Leaf||North – Football & Powerlifting||Army||Served 4 Years|
|Ed McMillan||North – Baseball||Air Force||Served 4 Years|
|Manuel Mendiola||North – Girls Soccer & Cross Country||Marine Corp.||Served 4 Years|
|Brad Peach||McKinney High – Asst. Swim & Dive||Air Force||B-52 SEA U-Tapau RTNB and Guam|
|Sam Serio||McKinney High – Head Swim & Dive||Navy||Vietnam – was on an oiler the first trip, USS Neches,which was then decommissioned. Assigned to the USS Meyercord a destroyer escort for an aircraft carrier.|