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U.S. Army Reserve Soldier reflects on family's service to the nation

By Capt. Daniel Johnson | United States Army Reserve Command | May 17, 2019

FORT BRAGG, NC —

In 1988, as 17 year-old Robert Lee Selmon sat on his couch watching images flicker on the screen of his television; he began to wonder about how he could further challenge himself. 

The 71st High School product, out of Fayetteville, North Carolina, had already received word of his acceptance into North Carolina State University’s electrical engineering program in the fall. Though he knew the field of study would lead to a lucrative career upon graduation, he was after more than just wealth, and the commercial that came on next offered him exactly what he was looking for.

“People don’t believe me when I tell them this story,” said Master Sgt. Robert Lee Selmon, now working in the United States Army Reserve Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “The Be All You Could Be recruiting commercial came on, showing Soldiers and what the Army had to offer. The message was that you could get an edge on life being in the Army Reserve. Growing up around Fayetteville I had seen Soldiers and what they were doing. I went to my local recruiter’s office the next day.”

Selmon has now been in the Army Reserve for 31 years. He’s served in a variety of units across the world as a 42A, human resource management specialist. These units have ranged from the one he started with while at N.C State to the United States Army Special Operations Command, also known by the acronym USASOC.

“I wanted to serve my country while taking the opportunity to finish school,” said Selmon. “My reserve recruiter worked with me and got me slotted into a unit near N.C. State until I graduated in 1993. At $80 a drill, it wasn’t about the pay to most of us. It was about finding a way to give back to the nation while also having a chance to continue our civilian lives.”

Selmon said he is grateful for the many opportunities he’s had while serving. Among the highlights that are forefront in his mind is being stationed in Hawaii which gave him the opportunity visit foreign countries such as Indonesia and Japan and places like the U.S. territory of Guam. Selmon also remarked that he was proud to contribute to the Global War on Terror supporting USASOC in Afghanistan, working what with he felt were some of the best Soldiers the Army has to offer. Now at USARC headquarters, Selmon is happy to get the opportunity to learn more about the strategic picture of the Army Reserve, and how it supports the overall mission of the United States military.

“I took my career one year at a time,” said Selmon. “I’ve had so many great experiences.”

Selmon met his wife Kenya when they both worked at United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC). His wife retired earlier this year at the rank of Sgt. 1st Class after many years of serving the nation.

“Being dual-military allowed us to help each other out in our careers, share a common understanding and language and even offer invaluable advice to our Family members” said Selmon. “We both learned how to overcome the hurdles we faced and that we could learn from every person we met.”

Recently, Selmon made the list for promotion to Sergeant Major, a goal of his since he enlisted, and within the next year, will be promoted to the rank.

“I remember the old post Command Sgt. Maj. on Fort Bragg…my aunt knew him,” said Selmon. “I would see how well respected he was by both officers and enlisted Soldiers. I wanted to be as professional as he was. I wanted to be the example for others to follow.”

The couple’s eldest son recently graduated basic and advanced individual training (AIT) as an 89B, Army ammunition specialist. 

His father partly inspired his path to military service.

“For years my son said he didn’t want to join the military,” said Selmon. “Then one day, as we were talking about my time in the Army, he mentioned a commercial he recently saw. He showed a genuine interest…so I gave my recruiter friend a call.”

Selmon said his son is now serving on active duty and has been out of AIT for about a month, currently loving his career choice and the fact that the Army has allowed him to see more of the world. Robert and Kenya Selmon are happy to have taken part in helping Ajani choose to serve.

“The Army Reserve is a great choice because it provides Americans with the opportunity to gain valuable experience from serving while still maintaining a work-life balance,” said Selmon. “I’ve dedicated 31 years of my life to serving our nation and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”