Dalton serves in military while teaching


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The phone rings. Chris Dalton picks it up, listens, and sighs.

“Is this 100 percent?”

“Yes sir.”

 

He hangs up and prepares to call the 18 men in his new unit.

In February 2003, science teacher Dalton, received a phone call telling him to prepare for mobilization training. He had three weeks to settle his life, pack his bags, and say his before he left for Fort Hood, Texas.

“It’s hard saying goodbye to loved ones, not knowing when you’re coming back,” Dalton said.

In 1993, Dalton joined the army ROTC. After graduating college, he was sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MA where he would go through the officer basic training course.

When Dalton was called on, it was no surprise to his family. Serving for the country has been a tradition beginning with his grandfather who served in World War II. His father, who had served in the army and in the Air Force, was in Kuwait at the time and his brother was in the Navy.

“It wasn’t as big of a shock to them,” Dalton said. “My wife’s family was a little more nervous and hesitant.”

For Dalton and his wife, preparing for the big departure meant a lot of hard work and preparation in a short amount of time.

“That was stressful, rushing to get things done,” Dalton said. “Luckily at that time we didn’t have kids. It was just stressful knowing the unknown.”

Dalton’s friends would also do their best to help him if the time came for him to return to duty.

“I would feel bad for him from the standpoint of he has a wife and two small kids,” science teacher Anthony Roungon said. “I think he’d be missed.”

While in Texas, he and his unit trained for four months together in order to prepare for combat.

“I had a crazy bunch of guys underneath me,” Dalton said. “My unit really got along well. We could joke around with each other. The camaraderie among us guys, working together, training together, those were the good times.”

But the good times were sometimes overshadowed by the idea of war and what lay ahead for Dalton and his unit.

“At that time we didn’t know if it was going to be an easy war,” Dalton said. “We had trained and validated, mentally at that time we were ready to go. I was set to get the job done and over with.”

After much waiting and hard work, the time had almost come for his unit to ship out. Their weapons had already been sent to Kuwait, and everything was ready to go. Then, with about 48 hours before their plane left, Dalton received another call. They weren’t leaving. They weren’t needed.

“Honestly at that time, it was a disappointment,” Dalton said. “You know, it didn’t sit well. We had worked so hard.”

For the next two months, his unit worked in Texas transporting equipment overseas. Finally, he got to go home.

Over the past four years, Dalton has enjoyed his time at home but has known in the back of his head that at any moment the phone might ring with that fateful news. If he is called to duty again, this time he will be guaranteed 18 months of service overseas.

“I applaud him for serving his country and fulfilling his duty,” Roungon said. “I would hope that everything goes great for him and that he comes home soon.”

Dalton, too, hopes that everything will turn out for the best.

“It’s just a little stressful not knowing when the call is going to come,” Dalton said. “It’s a stressful waiting game.”

 

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