The Hawk Eye

ROTC veterans look back

Two ROTC teachers, who are also veterans, recall their time in service and voice their thoughts on Veteran's Day

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Captain Cacy (left) and Commander Williams (right). Commander Williams poses with his old uniform.

Captain Cacy (left) and Commander Williams (right). Commander Williams poses with his old uniform.

Captain Cacy (left) and Commander Williams (right). Commander Williams poses with his old uniform.

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Commander Jeff Williams

Q: Which branch of the military were you a part of and for how long? 

A:  I was a Navy commander and I flew the P-3 Orion. I was in the P-3 Orion community for 22 years.

Q: What led you to join the military?

A:  I went to Texas A&M, got a degree. Even before that, coming out of high school, I always wanted to fly for the military. To fly, you have to have a college degree, and there wasn’t really anything else I really wanted to do, so I went ahead to college. After college, I got offered a pretty good job, started working as an engineer. I very quickly realized that was not what I wanted to do. I still wanted to do something different, [to] travel, to do something exciting, and naval aviation fit that bill. So I joined the Navy and never regretted it.

Q: How did you become interested in teaching?

A: I did my first operational squadron tour in Hawaii, and then I got transferred to be an instructor in San Antonio at an Air Force base. It was a great tour. It gave me an opportunity to teach in the classroom. We would teach students the basics of flight and navigation. Then we would put them in a simulator so they got a feel for what it would be like to actually fly. I did that for three years, and I really got to know the students, really got to make a connection and more importantly it was just fun to teach them. In the military you’re always teaching. Nobody’s indispensable, there always has to be somebody ready to take your place because we do train for combat and combat has consequences. As soon as you learned your job, you were training your replacement. Even before I finished my Navy career, I’d started working on my master’s degree in education. Unlike some teachers, I have the opportunity to get to know these young men and women, in some cases I’m with them for four years, so I like that connection. That’s kind of what pushed me to education.

Q: What does Veteran’s Day mean to you?

A: That’s kind of funny, [because] when I look at my Navy career, of course I am a veteran, [but] I still don’t see myself as I see the veterans [I saw] as I was growing up. When I think of veterans I think of the guys in WWII, the guys in Korea, the guys in Vietnam. I was in the Gulf War, [but] I still don’t see myself as one of those guys. So when Veteran’s Day rolls around, I still want to honor [them].

Q: What do you wish kids knew about the military/Veteran’s Day?

A: I don’t think kids today, and I’m speaking in general terms, have an appreciation for how hard it is. I think that they take [our way of life] for granted. For instance when 9/11 occurred, I was in an operational squadron, my commander got us together and said ‘we are at war. We are going away. We’re not going to tell you how long you’re going to be gone, but go home and write letters to your wives and husbands and children, because you’re going to combat and you may not come back.’ I don’t think we as a population understand that kind of sacrifice.


Captain Thomas Cacy

Q: Which branch of the military were you a part of and for how long? 

A:  [I was part of the] United States Navy for 25 years, four months and 11 days.

Q: What led you to join the military?

A:  I wanted to travel and see the world and I figured the Navy was a good way to do it.

Q: How did you become interested in teaching?

A: I learned about the ROTC program when I was doing a tour recruiting duty down in Pensacola, Florida. I thought it would be a good thing to do once I got out of the military. The youth of today are our future; somebody has to invest the time in them.

Q: What does Veteran’s Day mean to you?

A: Veteran’s Day is a remembrance of those who gave their all.

Q: What do you wish kids knew about the military/Veteran’s Day?

A: I wish that the kids knew that the military, worldwide, does a lot more good than they will ever understand. There’s a lot that happens that they never hear about. For Veteran’s Day, they need to understand that millions of people have sacrificed to give them the benefits they have right now.

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