HONORING OUR VETERANS
When you think of a Veteran some of the first words that may pop into your head are brave, strong, and courageous. While many Veterans embody these traits, we know that our colleagues are so much more than just a few adjectives. Our Veterans at The Garrett Companies are powerful forces of inspiration with a drive for excellence and a tremendous amount of bravery and ingenuity. Each story leading our Veterans to enlist is uniquely their own, with each one being just as inspirational and powerful as the other.
There are few guarantees when enlisting to serve the country. There are many unknowns to face, such as where will you be sent? What will the mission be? What, or who will you encounter? However, learning about the powerful journeys of our Garrett Veterans a few aspects are sure to be guaranteed. Enlisting is life-changing and transforms the kind of human being you are destined to become. The hardships endured while in service help you to discover not only the enormous capabilities one but a drive to work toward a greater purpose. That being said, we would like to commemorate and give thanks to our Veterans and share more about their service.
Our vibrant construction project engineer, Patrick McMahon was a security forces member or in other words a police officer in the U.S. Air Force. Joining in 2004 and then medically retiring in 2010, McMahon was deployed to Iraq three times and achieved the prestigious rank of staff Sargent/ E-5. His deployments consisted of Camp Bucca from November 2005 to June 2006 where he was a driver/gunner in a convoy squad that ran convoys all over southern Iraq and into Kuwait. McMahon’s next deployment was Sather AB located at Baghdad International Airport from February 2007 to October 2008. He conducted base security and armory duties, where he then found out he and his wife were pregnant and he was fortunate enough to make it home for the birth! His final voluntary deployment to Iraq was from March 2008 to June 2008. This deployment to Southern Baghdad consisted of working with and training Iraqi police, combat patrols, serving warrants, making arrests, and gathering intelligence. This one-year deployment was cut short after four months due to injury, he then medically retired in 2010. “I am proud to be a vet because there is still nothing better than serving your country in my opinion”, McMahon said. “There are only a few other things that I take this seriously, my marriage, and my kids. There is nothing more important.”
Enlisting at the young age of 17 in 2010, our construction project engineer, Cody Bledsoe’s perseverance throughout his time in the military is incredibly admirable. He completed basic training, advanced individual training then went from the National Guard to active duty right out of high school. His first deployment as a combat engineer was to Iraq in 2013 for a year. After this, Bledsoe attended Sapper School and was later deployed to Afghanistan in 2015 for 14 months. He was on active duty as he came back to the states and began training when he had a damaging accident while repelling from a tower. Although inhibited physically, he stayed in the Army for another year doing logistics operations and was honorably discharged in 2018. Bledsoe is proud to be a Veteran. “I served with some pretty amazing people and got to experience some pretty incredible things”, Bledsoe said. “I was a part of something less than one percent of people do.”
Our Veteran and construction superintendent, Jarrod Pickel was in the U.S. Navy from October 2006 to October 2010. He was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida with Patrol Squadron 45 as an aviation electrician. Pickel dedicated one and a half years to detention operations in Cuba. From November 2007 to December 2008, he was deployed to Guantanamo Bay with the Navy Expeditionary Guard Battalion as a guard in the maximum-security detention facility where enemy combatants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban were held. From June 2009 to December 2009 he was deployed to Kadena, Okinawa Japan with Patrol Squadron 45 as an aviation electrician, maintaining the P-3 Orion craft in support of surveillance operations in the area. “I’m proud to have served my country”, Pickel said. “I’m hoping that my tiny part helped instill some good in the world.”
Vice president of development, Ken Koziol had an interest in the military in high school when he wanted to attend the Air Force Academy. He interviewed with both state senators and local congressman and was fortunate to be nominated by two of the three to attend the Academy. Unfortunately, his eyesight was not ideal to pursue a career in the Air Force. During Koziol’s junior year of college, he was interested in becoming an instructor at Navy Nuclear Power School however, it turned out that the Navy wanted more mechanical engineering majors, not civil engineering, so that was a dead end. Then the recruiter asked if he had ever considered the Civil Engineer Corps and the rest was history. After Officer Candidate School, Koziol reported to Civil Engineer Corps Officers School in Port Hueneme California in 1993. His first tour was with NAVFAC (Naval Facilities Engineering Command) in San Diego from 1993 to 1995 and he went to NSWG-1 (Naval Special Warfare Group 1) in San Diego from 1995-1997. Koziol was deployed in 1996 on a Navy SEAL exercise in Korea, working 12 hours on and 12 hours off every day for five weeks. He left the Navy as a Lieutenant in 1997. “I’m proud to be a Veteran in the same way I am proud to be part of The Garrett Companies”, Koziol said. “I was/am part of an organization that I enjoy and that gives me great experiences and memories to carry with me. I am no more special because I had a career in the Navy, I just have more stories to tell than the average person!”
Project superintendent, Sam Petersen got somewhat of the star treatment during his four years of service in the United States Marine Corps. In Iraq he had the opportunity to meet Chuck Norris and was a part of the security detail for Angelina Jolie while she was on a humanitarian campaign. During his service he was stationed in Kaneohe Bay Hawaii, Okinawa Japan in 2005 and Waleed Iraq in 2007. The best part of his service was being able to interact with a variety of people because everyone came from a different way of life. This helped him in everyday civilian life and work once coming back to the United States. He is proud to be a Veteran because, “once a Marine always a Marine, Semper Fidelis.”
Project manager, Jake McKanna joined the Navy Reserves while at ISU and went on active duty to Afghanistan in August 2010 to May 2011. While in Afghanistan he served with the U.S Navy construction division of the Seabees constructing combat outposts. McKanna assisted in building bunkers, a mess hall, an air traffic control tower, and about 600 yards of chain-link fence. He chose to join the Navy because it had always been of interest to him and he knew it would help him to better himself in life. The best aspect of his service was the friendships he gained. McKanna believed in his mission while in the Navy. “I know we’re making a difference because I can see it all around me”, McKanna said.
Real estate closing associate, Ryan Deckard, served 10 years in the military as an E5 Sergeant from July 2002 to December 2006. From 2003 to 2004 he was deployed to Kuwait for the buildup phase of the Iraq war. He then marched into Iraq, with the majority of his time spent in Mosul. From 2005 to 2006 he was all over Iraq, including Fallujah, Tikrit, Baghdad and many other areas. Deckard says he is proud to be a Veteran. “I would like to think I helped make a difference for the Iraqi people”, Deckard said. Whether this is something that actually came to fruition or not, I am not sure. But I am proud to say we gave it our all in an attempt to do so. Additionally, I am proud to say that I had a part in the tradition of military service in our country.”
Project superintendent, Pete Crosby is a Vietnam area Veteran. He served in the US Army from 1970 to 1975 as a fire direction control in the 2 to the 37 field artillery battalion. He was reassigned to the 2 to the 2nd field artillery school in 1973 where his primary job was teaching NATO officers and officer candidates Field artillery. He held the rank of E-5 Sargent.
Regional superintendent, Terry Lott served from 1988-1994 in the US Army National Guard 744th Engineer Detachment BCT Fort Leonard Wood, MO. US Army Engineer School Fort Leonard Wood MO combat and civil engineering training. In 1990, he was deployed to Villa Rosario, Republic of Panama where his unit constructed an elementary school for the village. He returned in 1991 to Pacora Panama and constructed a school there. These projects were part of a larger peace effort after the 1989 US invasion of Panama, Operation Just Cause.
Project superintendent, Milton Smith served in the US Army in the 5th of the 27th Field Artillery from August 16, 1968 until April 3, 1978. He reached the rank of staff sergeant. He had four tours in Vietnam and a tour in Germany and 101st airborne division in for Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He is a retired handicap vet.
Thank you to all of our Veterans from everyone here at The Garrett Companies. We admire your sacrifice and bravery for our country and are grateful to have you with us. Veterans Day is a reminder that our freedom isn’t guaranteed. It is protected by the men and women in our Armed Services.