Bainbridge resident heads to Afghanistan

Saturday, July 25, 2009
Bainbridge resident Sean McGillem will be heading for duty in Afghanistan in about two weeks.

BAINBRIDGE -- In about two weeks, Sean McGillem will leave Putnam County headed for Afghanistan, a country that is nearly 7,500 miles away. He is heading out with his National Guard Unit Passport Cyclone 38th Infantry Division.

McGillem is excited to be traveling over 7,400 miles to a country totally unlike the United States.

"I'm very excited. I like to help people and this is going to be a great life experience," he told the Banner Graphic Friday.

Officially the country's name is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and has a population of about 29,929,000. It is bordered by Iran on the west, Pakistan on the east and south and by Turkmenstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan on the north.

The 23-year-old Bainbridge volunteer fireman has a history of helping people. His father Robert McGillem works for the Salvation Army.

"As long as I can remember I have always tried to put other people before myself," he said.

He joined the National Guard at the age of 18 after attending school in Plainfield.

McGillem's unit's main mission is to assist the Afghan government with security, construction, economic and agricultural support, as well as, facilitate the reception, training, housing and sustainment of U.S. troops entering the country.

"We'll help them build roads and schools," said McGillem. "I'd like people to know that we are well-trained highly motivated soldiers who are going to go and try to make a difference."

McGillem's mother Lisa Wilson and younger brother Jeremy Wilson moved from Plainfield to Bainbridge a few years ago. They are sad to see their son and brother leaving, but are also very, very proud of him.

He also leaves behind a three-year-old daughter named Kyla.

"She knows daddy is going away but doesn't really understand," said McGillem.

He will be away for at least a year and plans to head to college upon his return.

"I want to go to college, complete my schooling and become a firefighter," said the young man who also loves to bowl.

Members of the 38th Infantry Division's Task Force Cyclone started their mobilization training on July 10 in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan over the next year.

This mobilization of Task Force Cyclone will make history as being the first combat mobilization of the division's Headquarters Company since World War II.

"We want to spend as much time as possible in Afghanistan. So we start the training early so that once we hit this mobilization station we're focused on the unit's collective training and we can focus on our mission when we get to Afghanistan," said Brig. Gen. Lonnie Culver, Task Force Cyclone Commander.

Soldiers have focused on individual training, weapons qualifications, to include squad automatic weapons and crew weapons, drivers training, medical training, Humvee rollover training and many other training tasks over the last year.

A departure ceremony is planned for Aug. 11 at Camp Atterbury for family and friends of the Unite Passport Cyclone 38th ID out of Stout Field in Indianapolis.

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  • He APPLIED to become a member of the fire dept.... he never attended any meetings or showed up for training.

    -- Posted by BGreader on Sat, Jul 25, 2009, at 11:36 AM
  • Well i'm sure he'll trade place's with you, you go to war and he'll stay and play fireman? People like you wear me out!

    -- Posted by CastlePirate on Sat, Jul 25, 2009, at 10:59 PM
  • BGreader, why don't you APPLY to become a soldier and join this fine, young man in service to the country?

    -- Posted by SoupSandwich on Sun, Jul 26, 2009, at 1:13 PM
  • I am an infantryman overseas as well, he is excited for nothing, it is not a cake walk here. dont go into this all happy. Make sure you come over here willing to do what it takes to make sure you and your buddies come home alive. Just make sure that you are headstrong and dont get too relaxed. Stay aleart and you will come home in one piece. All I can say is be safe brother.

    -- Posted by abaker on Sun, Jul 26, 2009, at 6:15 PM
  • My boyfriend is in Infantry but is currently in BCT at Fort Benning right now! People like him have my greatest respect. All military men and women have my greatest respect, and I will soon be one of those Army National Guard women! GOD-BLESS U AND THANK-YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND SERVICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! U ARE IN MY PRAYERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    -- Posted by Army_girl17 on Sun, Jul 26, 2009, at 11:05 PM
  • This link below is a great article on how we as Christians often forget our roots as early peacemakers and we have been given a charge to spread peace and God's love. It offers perhaps an uncomfortable look at today's soldier for many, but if you search in your heart and into the Word, with that open mind, I feel you will find a lot of truth within.

    This poor man as well as many of you in this community claim to be Christians with your mouths but fail to realize that Christ has called us to love one another and to be peaceful, not to go to war or kill others. Sure others may be sinful in their behavior and nature just as we are sinful in ours, they overcome their sin just as we overcome ours, by prayerful conversation with our Father. A Christian soldier is a person who stands up for their faith, not someone who destroys another for his.

    -- Posted by bluntbuthonest on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 1:33 AM
  • bluntbuthonest:

    It is one thing to have a pacifist view of the Christian faith. I, like many other Christians, don't hold the same view, but I do respect it. I appreciate the heart behind it and the ideals it chases. (I just believe it misses out on a big point: When it comes to nations, God understands wars have to happen. When it comes to individual relationships, i.e. how I treat my neighbor, then certainly it is not alright to kill).

    The one thing I will say to you is this: Though we disagree, I can truly get where you are coming from. What I don't agree with is the choice of this forum to state such a thing. This young man is leaving behind his family to serve his country. He is putting his life on the line and if he comes back without a scratch, he will have still sacrificed for all of us (and so will his family).

    In light of that, you found it appropriate to post a link and tell this man he is not your idea of a Christian soldier and that he is wrong for going to fight for us? And you chose to tell him not in a private conversation but in a public forum where you could bash him for all to see? Is that what loving one another and being peaceful is all about? Ironic.

    -- Posted by cloverfan on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 7:54 AM
  • Cloverfan,

    First of all, you were very respectful in your post and I appreciate that. Secondly, the comment I made was not intended to bash the man in this article. In fact, the purpose was to show our community (including this young man) that joining the military is not a cause for celebration. My faith teaches me that Christ paid the ultimate sacrafice so that I wouldn't have to. To clarify, and perhaps this is where you felt I attacked, I am not sure; the purpose of this article is to challenge the typical mindset that to me has been implicated as a result of a societal belief that used to not exhist within the Christian community and to me, goes against the way Christ commanded us to live our lives. As Christians I believe we are to be the peacemakers of the world and that we have a greater responsibility to show love to all people regardless of their mistakes. We are after all asked to turn the other cheek. Christ taught us to stand for our faith, but never to hurt anyone along the way defending it. In fact, Christ tells us that because we do not waiver in our faith, we may be hurt. I have come to peace with the fact that because He has asked me not to kill, that in following Him, I maybe killed. I also know that I have a better place in the future ... Read Morebecause of this faith. To me, Christ led a peaceful life with war all around Him, He took it to the extreme and followed God even when it meant that His life would be taken and for that I am thankful. I feel He set forth the example we are all to live by: To remain at peace in Christ even when we are facing our own crosses. I am in no way judging this young mans heart, I am simply making a plea to our community to set aside the views of man and what our Christian community has somehow chosen to follow along the way and to start following Christ's way.

    -- Posted by bluntbuthonest on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 9:32 AM
  • well i have known sean since he was born and i grew up eith his mother, i am so very proud of him for his bravery hes a wonderful young man and father, and son and brother we love you sean and we will miss you and cant wait till you get home

    -- Posted by ironmaiden on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 3:24 PM
  • Wow, look at the comments. I am impressed with those that show their support of our soldiers. For those that have less support or negative comments, sorry that you feel that way and I consider that to be your problem. I know that it is hard to understand war, I have mixed feelings myself. However, when you have raised a child on your pretty much on your own and that child makes the choice to join the service and volunteer to serve his country; what a feeling. It is feelings of great accomplishment, success and being proud. When that child also is taking with them in life the qualities, values and traits that you have taught them what another wonderful feeling. I think some people missed some parts in the article. This unit is going to this country to do good for those that are less fortunate. As well as, Sean loves to help others, that is one of those values and traits that he got from his family; and helping others is exactly what he will be doing. Thank you to everyone for their comments, because whether good or bad all comments will make us stronger people.

    -- Posted by soldiermama on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 8:18 PM
  • Soldiermama,

    I have also raised my children on my own, and I've often wondered how I would feel if either of my boys decided to join the military. While they have chosen other paths, I certainly do feel for you. You seem to have handled this situation with much grace and have raised a fine young man. I will be praying for you until his safe return.

    -- Posted by working_mom on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 9:11 AM
  • It is an Honorable thing you are doing there Brother, but like abaker said, NEVER let your guard down, it IS a War Zone there no matter what your mission there may be, Watch each others Back as well as check your buddies Head and where they are at. Being Deployed can bring up feelings you have never experienced, Keep in touch with your Family and Friends, they like to know what your doing and HOW your doing. Time will go by faster if your busy. And as for the Christianity aspect of it, your actions and deeds there will project more than you know. If your out in the Provinces doing good works and showing your compassion as well as representing the Finest Professional Soldiers America has to offer, then your time there will be well Served. There is a famous quote "Peace through Superior Firepower" Don't be afraid to defend you and your Buddies when the time comes, Lay it down and bring your team back safely. God Bless you and the 38th Inf.

    -- Posted by Afghan Contractor on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 11:13 AM
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