“I love being a soldier, and I love being around soldiers.”
Command Sgt. Major Jeff Mellinger, 58, one of the U.S. Army’s last three active duty draftees to retire.  Mellinger was 19 when he was drafted in 1972 during the Vietnam War. He said he told the draft board that there was a mistake – he said “I don’t need to go into the Army, I’ve got a job.” Instead of being sent to Vietnam, he stationed in West Germany as a clerk and could not wait to get out after his two year service was up. The company commander ended up changing his mind when he convinced him to try joining the Army Rangers. Mellinger said in a 2007 interview that reenlisting was the best decision of his life. As of 2011, he had made over 3,700 jumps with a total of thirty-three hours in freefall.  Over the years, Sgt. Major Mellinger was deployed to Japan and Iraq. During the more than thirty-three months that he was in Iraq, his convoys hit twenty-seven roadside bombs, including two that destroyed his own vehicle. In both instances, he was not injured. Before retiring this year, Mellinger worked at the headquarters of the United States Army Materiel Command in Virginia. (Read the story here.)

Watch an interview with Sgt. Maj. Mellinger below: