Commitment to family and countryBryan Green wasn’t there to pick up his three sons from their last day of school at Lake Elmo Elementary last Friday. But you better believe he was Skype-ing them online to ask about it later that evening.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
Bryan Green wasn’t there to pick up his three sons from their last day of school at Lake Elmo Elementary last Friday. But you better believe he was Skype-ing them online to ask about it later that evening.
“It helps me get a visual on them and see their changes and growth,” said Green, a Woodbury resident currently serving as a medical evacuation pilot in southern Iraq with the U.S. Army National Guard. “I miss them; and I know they miss me. But it’s not nearly as tough as it probably was in the past when all you had for communication with someone serving in the military was letters and maybe a phone call.”
Spending time with his family via the Internet has become a routine for Green since February when he was deployed as a member of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. The division spent several weeks preparing for their mission before arriving in Iraq in April.
Green, who is a major, said the weather is Iraq is transitioning to summer. Day-time temps are regularly in the 80s and 90s, but will soon be consistently 100 degrees.
“Oh, it is hot!” Green said late last month during a phone interview with the Bulletin set up by the National Guard. “But we’re actually glad about arriving this time of year because it gives us a chance acclimate to the heat. It’s something you just have to deal with, but it helps to be physically prepared as well as mentally and spiritually prepared.”
While in Iraq, Maj. Green, a 12-year Army National Guard veteran, will be coordinating flight schedules for medical evacuation pilots working in the southern provinces of the country.
Green learned to fly medical rescue helicopters early in his career with the Guard, but he said he’s doing more “desk flying” while currently serving in Iraq.
“I fly just enough to be able to keep my certification, but my job over here is to really help coordinate all of our pilots,” said Green, who is employed as a pharmaceutical sales representative.
Green found his calling as a citizen soldier early on in his adult life. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Biology and then received a direct commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1997.
“I wanted to be a research scientist,” said Green. “I also wanted to serve my country and earn a second retirement.”
He was eventually talked into switching to the National Guard and serving in the Medical Service Corps as a Medical Evacuation pilot.
Since then, he has learned a lot about balancing his responsibilities in his civilian life as a husband and father with his responsibilities as a soldier. He credits his faith and his family with helping him to achieve that a balance.
“Number one, all praises go to God,” Green said. “Without God nothing is possible. He takes care of me spiritually, physically and mentally. And he gives me the strength to prioritize what I need to do and when I need to do it.”
Green said he and his fellow Red Bulls, many of which are from the Twin Cities, are focused on their mission at hand which according to Guard media officials is to “work by, with and through the government of Iraq to professionalize the Iraqi security forces to improve civil capacity by improving and working with non-governmental organizations and provincial reconstruction.”
But Green admits any free time he has is often consumed with thoughts of his wife Teresa and their three children Seth, 11, and Blaine and Bryson, both 6.
“I’ve always been a homebody,” Green said. “When I’m not at work, I’m with my wife and with my kids, and that makes it difficult to be gone for a year. But I am fortunate to have my faith in God and that is something our family leans on during these times.”
Back home in Woodbury, Teresa said she has also been able to lean on friends and family in helping her keep the couples’ three young sons busy, but said she knows the year apart from their father will not be easy.
“(Bryan) has been deployed before, but he was still in the country and the kids were much younger,” Teresa said. “They’re old enough now to realize their father is far away, so it’s harder on them. But we do get to speak with him often enough that he’s able to keep tabs on them with their school and sports.”
Green has even got a chance to check in with his children’s school principal at Lake Elmo Elementary during his deployment.
Earlier this past school year, Green arranged for the National Guard to fly in a Chinook helicopter to the school.
“That was a really neat experience, not only for our children’s classes, but for the whole school,” Teresa said. “Bryan is a very committed father to the kids in their studies and their sports.”
Green, a former member of the University of Minnesota Gophers football team, coaches his oldest son’s youth football team and said that is one more thing he will miss this summer and fall.
“I love sports and staying active with the kids,” Green said. “It’s something they like doing, which makes it even harder for me to miss. So for a little while I’ll have to be coaching them from a distance.”
For more information on the Army National Guard 34th Red Bulls Infantry Division go to www.theredbulls.org.