ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
The Island of Guam is known for its spacious beaches, snorkeling, its hospitality and rich culture: what most travelers are looking for. What most people don’t know is that Guam is extremely patriotic. So much so that one if every four citizens of Guam will most likely serve in the armed forces in either Active Duty status, the reserves or the National Guard.
What better way to represent the patriotism of Guam than Sgt. Nededog, who has served in three branches of the military.
Staff Sgt. Jeff Nededog, 254th RED HORSE Squadron construction and pavement journeyman, started his journey in the Army Reserve, transferred to the Navy Reserve, moved into the Air Force Reserve, and is now on his way to retiring from the Guam Air National Guard.
“It was fun moving to different branches,” said Nededog laughing. “You get to see all the diversity that each branch offers.”
Nededog also got to see the diversity of strengths and weakness inside of himself, finding himself tackling problems he wasn’t prepared for. The first hill he tackled was when he found himself leading a basic training platoon without the usual support he had.
“Being away from my family was hard,” he said. “At that time I was married and had two kids and it was my first time being away from them. My basic training was nine weeks, and what was hard for me were the younger guys. I was in my late twenties and they were all 18 and out of high school. They are hard to control.”
His first thought of quitting came when dealing with those young, soon-to-be soldiers. He knew there was something he had to help him get through.
“I went back to my family picture,” Nededog said. “I told myself that I was doing it for my kids. I said a prayer and looked at my family and said ‘Don’t give up’. After that, that was one of my tools I used to never quit.”
Nededog spent the next four and half years serving as an automated logistics supply, ordering parts for equipment. Nededog enjoyed the Army Reserves and is grateful for his first steps of leadership. He also says that the biggest thing he took away was discipline, saying that the Army is good about keeping soldiers on their toes in preparing for many circumstances.
Nededog said though that he thought that his current job didn’t bring out the best of what he could accomplish. He knew that he wanted to do more, and began thinking of his options.
“I was looking for my niche, and I thought maybe it was time to try something different,” Nededog said. “I moved over to the Navy as an equipment operator. I was a Seebee, and that was cool with me. I got to operate bigger equipment and it was something that I could learn.”
The Navy brought Nededog his first taste of something that felt right for him. He also experienced his first deployment in the Navy Reserve’s.
“It was three of four years after joining that I got told that I was going down range,” he said. “That was jargon to me. Come to find out, down range means getting deployed, and it wasn’t a peace mission. It was never wracking. It was fear of life, and I had to ask myself if I was coming home.”
Nededog says he remembers the amount of training the Navy gave him, and the sense of relief it brought over him. He said that he felt the weight of sponsorship the Navy took upon itself to properly prepare him for success.
The Navy Reserves sent Nededog to Mississippi to receive training for his deployment, where he went through an intense combatives course. He shipped out directly from Mississippi to Afghanistan, and was gone for almost a year. The raw emotions of being away and operating in an austere environment began to show in his friends and himself.
“You know, when people get deployed, they don’t want to go to sick call,” Nededog said. “They hide their problems and emotions. I started noticing that people I knew were changing. Even I was changing. I was more easily agitated and I got frustrated really fast and I was never like that before.”
He remembers just trying to make it to his next sleep. Nededog said that he would be off post working and would come under fire. The instability was hard to cope with. He found solstice in a familiar comfort. He went back to his photo of his wife and children. At this point he had four kids
“I would just look at my kids and pray,” Nededog said. “Everyday.”
After the Navy Reserve Nededog decided that he was getting close to his niche, but that this wasn’t it either. He decided to try something new again, and join the Air Force Reserves, where he became a recruiter, but quickly realized that this wasn’t what he was looking for either. It was here though that the door for what he was looking for appeared.
“I’ve known Sgt. Nededog through the civilian side of Guam,” said Master Sgt. Bon Martitas, 245th Force Support Squadron recruiting and retentions. “We would meet always meet at the Naval Hospital when we were prequalifying applicants through medical physicals. Through time in discussion he expressed his interest in the Air National Guard.”
The 254th RED HORSE Squadron has a two-fold mission, one being federal and the other local. Their federal mission supports directives from the commander-in-chief while also responding to contingencies world-wide. Martitas added that the local mission allows the governor of Guam to request for assistance in the tragic event of a natural disaster.
Nededog made the decision to join the ANG, and began his clearance process, which included meeting the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery requirements, a medical clearance and a statement of release from the Air Force Reserves.
“Those things happened,” said Martitas. “What made it more unique for Sgt. Nededog was that on a short notice, after a month or so of joining he took on a deployment. That says a lot about Sgt. Nededog and his commitment. His selflessness and his ability to take on a commitment and deploy is a good reflection of that kind of people that we would like to have in our unit.”
Nededog left for his first deployment, but the 254th knew that it would come with a price at home, and wanted to make sure the help Nededog while he was gone.
“We take pride in that when you talk about the Guam Air National Guard, that we say the guard is family. Once you join the guard, through initial entry, prior service, or what have you, with coming in the guard, you are one part and your family is the extended part of the family,” said Martitas. “We not only look at you but we look at your spouse, your parents, siblings, children, and we take them all in and ensure that they are taken care of. It resonates what we do out in the community.”
Nededog is set to retire in five years, but knows he won’t stop working. He’ll continue working his civilian job in aircraft rescue firefighting “until my legs can’t go anymore”.
“We have teachers, lawyers, law enforcement, fire fighters, and how we serve here is how we serve the island and the community,” said Martitas. “We call it Island Pride. We take great pride in not only serving our nation, but also out island. Sgt. Nededog represents that.”