ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Cheyenne Fields served 34 years in the Georgia Army National Guard.
He not only fought for our country, but also served communities in Albany. Now, he works as a trainer for the Marine Corps Logistics Base Police Department, and still finds time to dedicate to his very large, loving family.
"It was chaotic. But it was a lot of fun," Fields said about his large family. "It was a lot of fun because we didn't really need anyone else."
Growing up as one of 16, Fields said his siblings prepared him for the camaraderie of the National Guard.
"I was coming out of high school with nothing really to do," he said. "Two of my best friends, one went into the army, and the other went into the navy. And I said, 'I really don't want to do it full time.' Because I was undisciplined, and I wanted some discipline. I thought, 'Let me try the National Guard.'"
Back in 1976, Fields thought he'd serve for six or so years, but that six years turned into 34 years of service.
"(I thought) six years and I'm out," he said. "But that one award that I won, that small award it changed my whole perspective. A commander of mine instituted a Soldier of the Month program. My platoon sergeant he would never select me to compete for that," said Fields.
So Fields decided to ask him why.
"I went and asked him, 'Why would you never let me compete for that?' And he said, 'Well, look at you. Look at your uniform. You don't really care about yourself,'" recalled Fields.
He said it was in that moment he realized he needed to change and make the most of this military experience.
So, he did. He shined his boots, got his haircut, and studied.
"I came back the next month and I won Soldier of the Month," said Fields. "And from that point on, I decided, 'Whatever you want to do Cheyenne, if you put your mind to it, and dedicate yourself to it, you can accomplish anything you want.'"
It's that mindset he carried with him during his difficult deployments around the world. He served as Battalion Command Sergeant Major during a deployment to Iraq in 2004.
"That one took a toll on me because I lost nine of my soldiers in Iraq. It was just hard knowing that it was so violent in Iraq. And it sticks with you," said Fields.
Another deployment that stands out in his mind? The 1994 floods in Albany.
"That's when we were actually lassoing caskets out of the cemetery," he remembered. "That was pretty bad."
But among those difficult memories, he recognizes his strength and progress from where he started. He was awarded the combat infantry badge and the bronze star for combat operations in Iraq.
But those awards and accolades aren't nearly as important to Cheyenne as his family.
"He's the glue, the Gorilla Glue, that keeps us together," said Fields' sister Delinda Wright.
Keeping this large family in touch is no easy feat.
But it's one Cheyenne takes very seriously. He's in charge of organizing yearly family reunions.
"That's why I'm so big on family, because I know what our mother and father instilled in us. Family first," said Fields.
He said he likes being that source of support for his family, for the nation, and for his community.
"I take pride in serving my country. I really do," he said. "Whether you call it National Guard or whether you call it army. To me, it's all the same. We had the same mission."
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