|Called to Duty: Hopkins County man says serving country an ‘honor and a privilege’|
|Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor|
Aug. 21, 2005 -- Jason Tully’s life took a significant turn this week, one that could impact his marriage, business, even his life.
And he’s doing it willingly.
Tully, a Sulphur Springs insurance agent, has gone from serving his community to serving his country.
As a reservist in the Army National Guard, Sergeant E5 Jason Tully, whose field of expertise lies in satellite communications, recently received his orders and left Tuesday morning to join his unit in Dallas before going on to Fort Hood in Killeen for refresher training and then await deployment to Iraq.
Tully, a 1993 graduate of Como-Pickton High School, served with the U.S. Army from 1995 to 2000, and when he came home after spending three years in Germany, he found that he still wanted to be a soldier.
“I feel it is a great honor and privilege to serve my country, and I wanted to continue to be a soldier,” Jason said proudly.
He entered the Army National Guard to become a “weekend warrior,” voluntarily taking time out of his civilian life one weekend a month to go to a guard unit in Dallas for continued training, meetings and preparation courses.
Meanwhile, at home in Sulphur Springs, Tully joined his parents, Lonnie and Cathey Tully, in the insurance business and settled into civilian life. In 2002, he took over his mother’s independent agency, and soon met his future wife, Samantha Parker, with whom he began to build his life.
The couple built a home together east of Sulphur Springs and moved in Thanksgiving of last year. More recently, they bought 87 acres with plans to operate a horse ranch.
They married on May 20, but the couple almost had to postpone their honeymoon. The weekend of the wedding, he received orders to attend muster readiness exams.
Jason said Samantha knew he was subject to being called up and has been very supportive, despite the Army’s timing.
“I’m just trying to be strong, and while he’s gone I’ll continue to work the ranch and go on with our dreams,” said Samantha, an employee of Alliance Bank.
“We knew they would come sooner or later,” Jason added.
Jason said that he could have volunteered earlier in the conflict, but decided to wait until his unit was called up due to obligations to his clients and family.
“It’s been just a matter of time ever since Sept. 11,” said Jason’s father Lonnie, a veteran of Vietnam, who has mixed emotions about Operation Iraqi Freedom. “We don’t necessarily share the same political views, but I can relate to the feelings Jason has about serving his country. I had those same feelings. I wanted to do what was right and make a difference.”
According to Lonnie, it’s hard not to compare the war in Iraq to that of his own experiences as a Marine fighting in Da Nang at Liberty Bridge and Hill 65.
“Having served in Vietnam just adds to my frustration,” he explained. “We didn’t accomplish anything, and I question the intent of this war. Bush is talking about winning peace in a land where there hasn’t been peace since creation. My fear is this is another war where we lose a lot of young lives.”
More than 1,800 American forces have died in Iraq since U.S. troops invaded more than two years ago. Recent polls indicate public support for the war is dropping.
“Regardless of how Americans feel about the war, we are there,” Lonnie said. “I would rather it be me there than him, but he believes in what he is doing, and it’s a part of being in the military.”
Lonnie said he takes comfort in his son’s role as a platoon leader and multi-channel communications coordinator.
“As any parent would, we request the prayers of the community,” he said. “Our prayer is that the Lord will just watch over him and return him safely to us.
“We’re very proud of our son,” said Jason’s mother Cathey. “We’ll be living by our faith and counting the days until he comes home.”
It’s now Jason’s turn to do his job as an Army reservist and rotate in with his unit for approximately 12 months, allowing other soldiers to come home for a break.
“I’m going in with a positive attitude, get my mission accomplished and come home,” he said. “The military needs me right now. I’m going from being a civilian businessman, to active duty. It’s my turn. It’s time to set my mind to that of a soldier.”