Staff Sergeant Robert Hames has been serving in the United States Army since 2008. At 17 years old, Hames attended and graduated from the Army's Airborne School, Warrior Leadership Courses and the Pathfinder School among others. Today he is also a Communication Studies major at Klein College.
"I always wanted to join the military ... since I was a kid, playing in the woods with toy guns with my friends," said Hames. "It was just something I've always wanted to do."
Hames currently serves in the Army Reserve, in which he spends at least one weekend per month and two weeks per year doing different military trainings, ranging from online classes to physical fitness classes. Occasionally, Hames said, he is called for active deployment.
In 2014, Hames was deployed to the Horn of Africa, where he served until 2015. Hames and two other service members were awarded the Medaille de la Defense Nationale, a French military decoration, for their assistance in helping a French soldier. He is part of a small group of Americans who have won this honor at the silver level.
In 2016, Hames was chosen, along with his unit, to travel to Normandy, France to commemorate the D-Day landings. He was initially concerned that the people of Normandy would disapprove of their presence, but Hames said the Normans were gracious and kind.
"It was an incredibly humbling experience," Hames said.
After active duty, Hames decided to take advantage of the free tuition for which his Army service made him eligible. When he was uncertain what he wanted to study, he landed on Communication Studies.
Today Hames said he is happy with his choice and hopes to find more ways to relate his studies to his military service.
Hames currently resides in North Wales, Pennsylvania with his girlfriend and son. He commutes to the city for classes and continues to serve in the Army Reserve. He said he enjoys sharing his stories with other classmates and friends who served in the military, as well as those who are thinking about it.
"There were times I wondered if it was the right call or not, but it definitely was," he said.