- This story first published in the Daily Nonpareil's special section Honoring Our Veterans on Sunday, Nov. 10. Read the e-edition here.
When Council Bluffs native Todd Humbert Jr. became a father, one way he decided to financially help his child, and pay for future college expenses was by joining the military.
“My mom always said growing up when I saw a Humvee or any sort of military vehicle I would say GI Joe, GI Joe,” he said. “I guess it just makes sense that now I’m in the Army. Back when I was a kid I wanted to be in the military, and I am now.”
A friend had given an Army recruiter Humbert’s name. They were going to join together, but Humbert said the friend didn’t end up joining.
“Basic training, it was a shocker, but once you get out of that and to the actual unit you’re going to be with, you start to create a bond, a brotherhood, with the people that you’re with,” Humbert said. “Anybody that I have served with if they were to call for anything it would be a drop of a hat to go help them.”
Since joining the Army in 2003, Humbert has two deployments to Afghanistan in 2004 to 2005, then 2010 to 2011.
Nick Jedlicka, director of Pottawattamie County Veterans Affairs, in particular stood out to Humbert as they worked together on Humbert’s first deployment to Afghanistan.
“One of my biggest influencers would be Nicholas Jedlicka in the Pottawattamie VA. He was my squad leader on my first deployment. I was 18 years old, turned 19 in Afghanistan,” he said. “I kind of had that attitude of just a young kid, like, you can’t tell me what to do type attitude. He’s the one that set me straight, made me into the person I am today and gave me that drive.”
Later in his career, Humbert was assigned to the Tactical Operations Center (TOC).
“It’s essentially a 911 operating center. We do mission planning, and battle tracking stuff,” he said.
Humbert uses his prior experience on the ground to better understand what the troops on the ground are seeing, hearing and imagining to figure out what’s going on.
This was how Humbert worked as part of surveillance during President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.
During that operation, Humbert, was stationed in a school as part of TOC, where he battle tracked and listened to the units on the streets talk.
“I believe our battalion was selected to go there, and it was kind of like help the police provide security throughout the D.C. area,” Humbert said.
While in D.C., he had a few days to sight see as well.
Other areas Humbert traveled to include Texas.
Humbert is currently stationed in Council Bluffs, and lives in Omaha and has two daughters.
He still gets called for extra drills on Fridays, Saturday, and Sundays, otherwise Humbert said life in the Army has gotten easier for him as he reaches 17 years of service.
“I hit that 10 year mark and I kind of just thought about it, ‘If I’m already doing 10 what’s another 10?’” he said.
When Humbert reaches 20 years of service in 3 years, he plans to retire from the military and stay in the area.