In honor of our Fourth of July celebration, it seems fitting to recognize a couple of young men who have chosen to serve in our military. Brothers John Michael and Jason Eiland, both DHS graduates, proudly serve in the US Navy and US Army, respectively.
John Michael Eiland
In April of 2013, just prior to his 18th birthday, John Michael Eiland (DHS graduate, 2013) joined the United States Navy.His first intention was to become a Quartermaster; however, he changed his planned rating – which is a navy job title – to Master At Arms. He had always been interested in the law enforcement field, and doing military police work for the U.S. Navy would “be the right stepping stone in starting a career in that field,” he realized.
John shipped out to the Great Lakes, IL, on October 16, 2013, to begin his basic training at Navy Boot Camp and his journey in what he now says will be his life-time career.
While there, he learned basic military instruction and discipline, which included such things as how to keep a clean barracks for inspections, how to march in formation with fellow recruits, how to stand watches, and “many others things to shape me into a Navy sailor.” The toughest part of it all, John relates, was the weather. Being a South Texas fellow, the cold winter months of Illinois were brutal. Ultimately, he says that his graduation day, December 12, 2013, was “one of the proudest days of my life.”
For his specialty training, John was sent to Master At Arms A School at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. He found the six weeks of training a very rewarding experience where he learned many aspects of military law enforcement, ranging from how to handle OC spray and small armaments to learning how to detain suspects and conduct arrests. He graduated from his A School on February 26, 2014, received his silver badge – becoming a Master At Arms – and was shipped out for his first duty station at Souda Bay, Greece.
John spent one year in Greece at the Naval Security Detachment, performing base security as his primary duties. These consisted of standing guard at entrance gates, conducting patrols on both foot and vehicle, guarding major assets – such as naval ships and air planes – and doing auxiliary training with the Marine and Greek forces.
From Greece, John spent the next year on a small island named Diego Garcia, located in the Indian Ocean. He spent one year there at the Security Detachment performing somewhat the same duties he had in Greece, the primary exception being that there, he was protecting Navy submarines. It was while stationed in Diego Garcia that John completed one contract of four years and re-enlisted.
John’s final year overseas took him to Naval Support Activity Bahrain, located in the Persian Gulf next to Saudi Arabia. Here, John found his toughest challenge, as both Greece and Diego Garcia both had warm, tropical weather. In Bahrain, however, he experienced intense Middle Eastern heat. Also, the threat level was more dangerous. That increased everyone’s stress level.
Finally completing his time overseas, John returned stateside, but he is grateful for the many new things about both the world and the navy that he learned. Some of that included the opportunity to experience other countries, such as Sweden, Japan, Italy, and the Philippines. “The three years I spent over there were some of the best of my life and have given me many fond memories,” John shares.
Stateside, John is stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio where he is working at the Navy Corpsman A School as one of the Command Master At Arms. He explains his duties: “to uphold good order and discipline with new prospective hospital corpsman and to conduct command investigations and legal proceedings.”
With over five years invested so far, John says he plans to make the navy his career from which he will one day retire. He adds that he loves his job, and he is proud of his achievements to date: the Navy Good Conduct ribbon, the National Defense ribbon, the Navy/USMC Overseas ribbon, the War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon, the War on Terrorism Service ribbon, and both the Navy Expert Rifle and Pistol Marksmanship ribbons.
As he neared the end of his senior year in high school (graduating DHS 2015), Jason Eiland decided he wanted to enlist in the Navy and follow in the footsteps of his older brother, who is also his best friend. Unfortunately, due to eyesight problems, he was denied entry. He was devastated. Heartbroken! But, despite discouragement, Jason decided to try the army recruiting station. The eyesight issue continued to be a factor, so, Jason was required to fill out an entry waiver that allowed him to be accepted with bad eyesight. He says that the entire process took four-six months, but, his army recruiter finally called him and said he “was good to go” for enlisting.
Jason was sent to Fort Jackson, SC, for basic training where he spent two months during which time “not a single day went by where we weren’t training in less than 100 degree heat,” he relates. But, he adds that it was a good experience where he learned discipline, tolerance, and patience. He adds that he “became a better man from it.” (He quips that the army motto is “hurry up and wait.”)
When Jason completed his basic training, he was sent to Fort Gordon, GA, where he completed his AIT School. He spent six months learning his job as a “Special Equipment Repairer,” studying computer sciences and hand-on-hand training for repairing electronics. His job includes working on radios, weapons optics, and night vision optics. He says that he loves this type of work.
After his six months at AIT, Jason was sent to airborne school at Fort Benning to learn how to jump out of planes. He spent three straight weeks of “constant running and getting all of my training grilled into my head for over 12 hours a day for three weeks straight.” He adds that the grueling training was worth it, as, after those three weeks, he had earned his jump wings.
From airborne school, John was fortunate to get selected to go to a non conventional unit, 5th Special Forces Group, not as Special Forces, but to train and support all the Green Berets and Special Forces men within the unit. Being in a SF unit, Jason has the opportunity to work on an extremely larger scale of equipment than his counterparts in the regular, conventional army do. He gets to work on thousands of different electronics yearly, and he takes pride in his work because everything he personally works on “goes down range and is used by the special forces teams themselves,” he proudly explains.
At this time, Jason is in his fourth year in the army and is on his first deployment in the Middle East. That deployment began with a month and a half spent in Syria before being sent to Iraq. There, he is finishing out his last few months before rotating back to the States. He will be ready. In his current work, his hours are 9-12, 7 days a week, 6-7 months straight, which he admits is pretty exhausting. He says, cryptically, “I’m not allowed to go into detail about what it is I do or what my unit does out here, but just know our schedule is constant.”
Jason’s main awards to date: the National Defense Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Parachutist Badge, and the Expert Shooters Badge. Jason’s current rank is Specialist or E-4.