July 31, 2017 –
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- In the Army, Soldiers within the same unit are referred to as brothers and sisters. While not related by blood, the same concept remains: watch out for each other.
For Sgt. 1st Class Robert Meola, Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Clifton and Staff Sgt. Kevin Patti, their individual backgrounds have brought them together in the U.S. Army Reserve’s 430th Military Police Detachment.
Meola is a federal investigator for Homeland Security. He runs the weapons of mass destruction response team for New Jersey and New York.
He’s following in a long line of family members, on both his father’s and mother’s side, to serve in the military. Seventy-nine percent of Soldiers come from families that have served in the military.
“It was always something I wanted to do,” he said.
Working for Homeland Security, he knows all too well about the effects of 9/11.
“It changed my life tremendously,” he said.“When 9/11 happened, the department that I worked for as a police officer responded to the city. I was down here at Fort Dix for annual training with the unit at the time. We were here at Dix for months afterwards because we had to help fortify the post because of imminent attacks.”
Clifton has been connected to the post since 1989.
“My first unit was at Fort Dix when I enlisted back in 1989. I came back with a civilian job years later. I didn’t want to give that job up so I joined the Army Reserve.”
He currently works as the research management officer for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 78th Training Division and formerly with the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command as the physical security specialist.
Patti has found the military and his job as fire chief in Merchantville, New Jersey go hand-in-hand.
“When I do training for the fire department, I use a lot of the training I’ve done in the military and vice versa,” he said. “The basic concept of crawl-walk-run can be applied to both the military and fire department.”
“It’s a great job. I’ve moved up through the ranks, I’ve trained good guys and get to help people,” he added.
The three Soldiers recently showcased their ability at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst urban assault course. They were part of a photoshoot with Army Reserve Communications, Army Marketing and Research Group and United States Army Recruiting Command. They could be seen in upcoming commercials and posters demonstrating how to breach and clear a room.
“We kind of are a band of brothers. We train consistently together on law enforcement tactics,” said Clifton.
“Last year, we were in Fort Drum, New York and did law enforcement duties up there. It was a great experience; we all banded together and there were no issues. Fort Drum actually thanked us for coming up there and helping them,” he said.