Patriotic BC pair become poster boys
Army National Guard recruiter Sgt. Salmin Roebuck help Bridge City senior Alex Garrison get ready for a photo shoot at Bridge City High School. RECORD PHOTO: Dave Roger
By Dave Rogers – For the Record
They’re in the Army now. And they’re on the Student Council.
They’re in the National Honor Society and the Spanish Club. On the football team and the basketball team.
And in the middle of all the things high school students do, Bridge City High School students Ben Moore and
Alex Garrison enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard and spent 10 weeks between their junior and senior years in boot camp.
The “citizen soldiers,” now high school seniors, will be honored on the field prior to Friday night’s football game between the Cardinals and Silsbee.
“They both were really good ones,” National Guard recruiter Sgt. Salmin Roebuck said, referring to the performance of the pair during Basic Combat Training last summer at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.
Roebuck disclosed part of Friday’s ceremony will be a presentation of posters featuring the patriotic duo.
Moore, the basketball player, and Garrison, a powerlifter and football player for the Cards, are the epitome of fully engaged teenagers, with friends, family, fun, hard work and responsibilities filling their lives 24/7.
So how did they end up in Army boot camp?
“He just asked me one day and it just clicked,” Garrison said of Moore. “I thought maybe it was the right thing to do.”
Garrison likes to keep busy, so it figures.
He shows cows, chickens, goats and pigs as a member of the FFA in Orangefield, because Bridge City doesn’t have a chapter.
“I have to get up before school starts and drive to Orangefield and feed the animals,” he said. “Then I have to go back and do it again after football, no matter how late it is.”
Garrison is senior class president at school and in the Spanish Club.
Moore is one of four BCHS students chosen to be on the school’s Student Advisory Board. He’s a member of the Student Council and the National Honor Society.
But joining the military has long been his dream. His father, Doug, spent 17 years in the Army National Guard and his brother, Brandon, has served in the Air National Guard.
He took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test last fall and before the end of 2015, Roebuck was in contact.
“I contacted him in December to recruit him and he enlisted in February, right after his 17th birthday,” she said.
“He basically wanted to go to ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) at Texas A&M. With the National Guard’s Simultaneous Membership Program, kids can join when they’re juniors in high school, get basic training and go to Texas A&M and be eligible for a National Guard scholarship.”
The National Guard is a unique element of the U.S. military in that it serves both community and country, responding to both national emergencies such as hurricanes and overseas combat missions.
The enlistment period is eight years with one weekend per month for drills plus a two-week annual training camp.
Moore and Garrison have already had their first “drill” weekend and more than one round of paychecks, according to Roebuck.
“They get paid from the time they enlist,” she said. “You can be a high school junior and senior and get paid part-time all the time.
“And there’s a state tuition reimbursement program you can get into right after basic training.”
Unlike Moore, Garrison said he had no predisposition to join the military.
“He was literally walking out of the weight room one day,” Moore recalled, “and I said, ‘Hey, do you want to join?’”
“I said, ‘Sure,’” Garrison remembered.
“He (Moore) talked about the college opportunity and how it is to do good for your country. I always appreciated the military. I just didn’t think it was for me.”
The idea of being in the ROTC at Texas A&M clinched it for Garrison, who enlisted after he turned 17 in April.
“A&M was my college 100 percent,” he said.
Back from boot camp, Moore has chosen the job of Aviation Operation Specialist as his Military Occupational Specialty.
Military Police is Garrison’s MOS.
Currently, the two Cardinal seniors are “poster boys” for Roebuck’s recruiting efforts. They could soon become billboard stars.
Austin photographer Steven Johnson came to Bridge City recently to snap Garrison and Moore in their sports and military uniforms for the posters.
He told the Guardsmen there was a good chance the photos might also soon end up on a billboard.
“This summer, my friends stayed at their houses, played games or practiced football,” Garrison said. “They got to have fun. I got to call them during basic.
“They weren’t doing anything – not even working.”