Forty years ago, the Vietnam War had come to a close, ending the military draft. Still Dave Long wanted to do his part to serve his country, and thus began a lengthy career in the United States Army Reserve.
My brother joined the Army in 1967 during Vietnam,” said Long. “His friends were being drafted and he thought he should do his part, so he joined. He was one of the lucky ones who made it home, unlike some of his friends. When I decided to join the Army, the draft was gone.”
Long said he initially planned to enlist in the active duty Army, but ultimately ended up joining a Army Reserve Training Unit.
The Army Reserve motto is “Twice the Citizen”, which proved true for Long over his 40 year enlistment, as he was able to be both a citizen and a soldier.
“It definitely requires a lot of flexibility,” Long said of the reserve. “It’s billed as a two days a month and two weeks a year, but there were plenty of times where it was 10 times as much.”
The Army Reserve tasks its soldiers to perform training called Battle Assembly one weekend a month in addition to a continuous two-week period once a year. Reservists are also subject to mobilization to active duty.
Long joined the United States Army Reserve on December 15, 1977 and was assigned to Company A, 3/340th, 85th Division Training, Quincy IL. He completed basic combat and advance individual training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky earning the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of 19E Armor Crewman.
At age 19, Long initially planned to serve as a mechanic with an armor classification. However it didn’t take long for him to move into the tank’s driver’s seat, so to speak, as he served as tank commander from 1979 to 1983, training soldiers to be mission ready in gunnery and armor tactics at both Ft. Knox and Ft. McCoy, WI.
In 1983 Long completed the Drill Sergeant Academy at Ft. Knox earning the Drill Instructor MOS 19E3X designation.
“That substantially increased my service time, as I was called upon to instruct both pre-basics, getting soldiers ready for basic training, as well as basic training itself,” said Long.
It also opened the door to more locals, as Long said he spent a lot of time at Ft. Knox, but traveled to just about every base that offered basic training.
“Most of the time it would be in two or three week increments, or ‘assists in active duty’ as they were called, but other times I was there the entire basic training cycle,” he explained. “We were called up to backfill for active duty, but also to assist in the training process.”
Over the next dozen years Long served as Drill Sergeant and Sr. Drill Sergeant, reclassifying to Infantry 11B MOS, and instructing Basic Training soldiers on weapons, tactics and how to survive. He trained at various locations such as Ft. Leonard Wood Missouri, Ft. Bliss Texas, and Ft. McClellan Alabama in addition to Ft. Knox.
Ultimately Long reclassified once again, transferring to the 428th Transportation Unit in Hannibal, MO in 1996.
“Our mission was transportation supplies and equipment to support various units,” said Long. “We basically worked with medium sized hauling units, not moving the biggest of equipment, but pretty much everything else.”
That lasted just two years before Long reclassified again, transferring to the 4207t US Army Hospital, out of Kirksville. He classified as a 68R (MOS) Veterinary Sergeant, serving as first sergeant and overseeing all of the soldiers welfare and training.
“I explained it to folks as similar to the role of the USDA,” said Long. We have two basic components, food safety for soldiers and veterinary services for the army’s animals, which are mostly canine units for the military police.”
It was during this time that Long received his one and only mobilization, being called up to active duty during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2007.
“There were plenty of times we thought we were going to get the call,” said Long. “I packed so many times but it never really happened until then.”
Long was mobilized for a year, going back to his old stomping grounds at Ft. Knox where he was assigned to the Ohio Valley Veterinary District as Special Operations Sergeant.
I worked at a variety of locations from Air Force bases to Navy installations,” he said. “We were basically in charge of movement, planning, logistics and soldier welfare as well as training.”
In 2015, Long made his fifth and final reclassification, moving to Columbia as part of the 7228th Installation Support Unit. As First sergeant and Detachment Sergeant, he had oversight of the 7228 and 7406 troop medical clinic.
“And now, over 40 years later it’s time to hang up the uniform,” he said. “I’ve been with a lot of different types of units, from Armor, Infantry, Medical and Veterinary units. I’ve also worked with the Navy on missions. And no matter what branch of service I’ve seen and worked with, all Americans need to be proud of the sacrifices that these individuals make every day. Remember these individuals all volunteered.”
That sense of service runs in the family.
“Over the years, I’ve had two sons decide they wanted to do their part also,” said Long. “One joined a Army Reserve Engineer Unit and the other was Active Duty Navy as a Seabee.”