Called To Serve

 
Called To Serve

By Chris Clark
The Dillon Herald
Woody Monahan is accustomed to handling simple to complex situations that arise anywhere from the classroom to the playground.
In the next few weeks, he will begin a year of handling other situations as an active member of the United States military.
Monahan has been the principal at East Elementary School in Dillon for the past three years — in continuing his work in the field of education,
spanning more than 30 years.
But for at least a year of service (yes 365 days or more), he’s now been assigned to another field — the field of active Army service.
LTC Monahan is a member of the Army Reserve’s 81st Regional Readiness Group stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C., near Columbia.
“The kids don’t want me to go, but I think they’re ready for me to get there and send them back some geography lessons and other information from that part of the world,” Monahan said. “I plan on staying in touch with the students — sending them e-mails and photos when I can.”
In May, Monahan will be deploying to an operations center in New Orleans, a base in Mississippi, and then to the Middle East country of Kuwait, as part of the 377th Theater Support Command in accordance with the U.S. Global War on Terrorism.
“I haven’t been on active duty for nearly 11 years now, but I knew that this time would probably come, especially after what (terrorist attacks on America) happened on 9/11,” Monahan said. “I was notified in March that I would be leaving, so I have been preparing for that ever since.”
The students at East Elementary, along with their parents, were recently notified of Monahan’s temporary departure plans in a school newsletter.
Plans have already been established so that during Monahan’s time away, school facilitator Bobbie Walters will handle the duties of principal at East Elementary.
“I’m trying to get in some time with my family before I leave,” Monahan said. “I’m also trying to get some time in at Fort Jackson and get things taken care of here at the school.
“The folks here, and those in the school district, have been great. I have no worries about things being taken care of while I’m gone.”
Monahan has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Francis Marion College and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of South Carolina.
He is married to Kathy Ford Monahan. They have one child, Emily, who currently works in Washington, D.C., where she attends graduate school at American University.
“I’m not worried about the deployment itself, it’s just the being away from my family and from everybody here,” Monahan said. “The last time I was overseas on active duty was around 1993, when I was in the area of
Western Sahara. So it has been a while.”
Monahan began his career in education as a classroom teacher at Gordon Elementary School in Dillon in 1975. After a decade, the Latta native then left education in 1985 to enlist in the United States Army. After basic training, Monahan was selected to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) where he was a distinguished graduate.
“Basic training, as a commander, is kind of like training students in a school setting,” Monahan said. “Your responsibility to the troops is a lot like that
of a teacher or principal who is educating kids. You’re teaching many of the same things — character, morality, and leadership, just to name a few.”
After OCS, Monahan then served on active duty for the next 10 years as an infantry officer. This time included various assignments, which included tours
with the 82nd Airborne Division, as a basic training Company Commander at Fort Jackson, as a U.N. Observer in Western Sahara, and as an ROTC Instructor at North Carolina State University.
After that, Monahan left active duty in 1995 and became an Army reservist.
LTC Monahan’s Army schools and training include Infantry Basic/AIT, OCS, Airborne, Ranger, Pathfinder, Jumpmaster, Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Combined Arms and Services Staff School (CAS3), and Command and General’s Staff Officer Course (CGSOC).
Upon leaving active duty in 1995, Monahan returned to the field of education and became an assistant principal at Andrews Elementary School in Georgetown County. After four years in that position, he became principal there. Four years later, in 2003, Monahan returned to Dillon County to become principal at East Elementary School. Monahan is interested to see how much things in active duty for the Army have changed during the past decade. “The Army has gone through quite a transformation and the technology is quite different today I’m sure,” Monahan said. “At one time, we were only allowed to call home once a week on a satellite phone. Things have changed a lot since those days I’m sure.”
Monahan gets the feeling that most students at East Elementary see his green uniform and assume that every military person in green does pretty much the same thing — carry a weapon, drive a tank, or something like that near the front line of a battle. But, of course, there’s more to keep a military going than just soldiers who carry weapons and enter areas of combat. Supplies have to be issued, equipment must be kept in good shape, and many other jobs must be done to keep things running smoothly.
Monahan will be mainly working to keep supplies moving in and moving out to various units near Kuwait. “This will be a bit different experience for me, since most of my experience has been much closer to the troops,” Monahan said. “I’ll be able to see how the different branches of the military work together. “But, simply put, I will be helping make sure we get all our supplies in and get them where they need to go.” His trek won’t begin with a flight straight to Kuwait, as he will spend brief stints at an Army command post
near New Orleans and at Camp Shelby (the largest state-owned training site in the nation, encompassing more than 134,820 acres) in Mississippi, before he is sent overseas.
“I’m ready to go,” Monahan said. “This is just part of your job; it’s what you do and what you expect to do when you join the Army. “For every combat soldier in the Army, there are at least three or four supply people or logistical
support people who help them get where they’re going and help them stay prepared once they get there.” Monahan, for one, is prepared to go and ready to assist the Army, while serving his country. “The last few summers haven’t been all about vacation time, since I have spent a lot of time in reserve duty at Fort Jackson,” Monahan said.
This summer won’t be all about vacation time for Monahan either. But it promises to be a bit more interesting than any brief getaway to the beach or to the mountains.


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