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Military Profile - William Heidner
In what branch of the military did you or do you serve and during what years?
I served as a cavalry scout on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1976 until 1998.
What is/was your rank?
I retired as a sergeant first class, pay grade E-7. The highest position I held was a first sergeant of a Cavalry Troop. (C Troop, 1st Squadron, 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment) Now serve as curator of the Heritage Center, Yuma Proving Ground.
What led you to join the military?
I needed a change to my life and I needed to pay for my college education. The cycle of work, school, broke, work, school, broke, etc. was going nowhere fast. I ran into an Army recruiter who mentioned the benefits of the G.I. Bill. So you could say that I enlisted for the money for my college education and stayed for 22 years. I now have completed my BA with a BFA in digital design and a masters of education with a focus on instructional design.
What is the most valuable lesson you've gained from your military service?
My most valuable lesson is that regardless of rank or position, most supervisors, managers, leaders, etc. are interested in doing the right thing for the mission and their organization. I learned that if you show initiative and develop ways that those leaders can harness and use to make the mission and organization better, then they will support your efforts, even if these efforts are “above your pay grade”.
What are some medals, commendations, citations or other military honors you are proud of having earned?
The highest decoration I was awarded is the Meritorious Service Medal. I was awarded that on three different occasions. I have also been awarded the Army Commendation medal, Army Achievement medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, as well as others. I am most proud that I was inducted twice into an organization known as the “Honorary Regiment of Dragoons.” This organization was established by Col. Creighton Abrams in order to recognize those who have significantly contributed to the 2d Regiment of Dragoons, known again today as the 2d Cavalry Regiment. It is an honor to be inducted one time, and a very rare honor to have been inducted twice. I am also honored to be a member of the Order of St. George, which is an honorary award given by the US Armor Association.
What would be your advice to someone considering or planning a career in the military?
While I would readily say that it is not for everybody, I would also say that if you are looking for an opportunity to excel within a standards-based organization, then the military is a great choice.
What are your hobbies and interests?
I love museums, history, teaching (associate faculty at Arizona Western College), cars, automobile racing, art, dogs, cats, music and movies.
Immediate family members?
My wife and one of our children live in Yuma along with one of our grandchildren. We have seven kids and 11 grandchildren, with most of them spread across the United States from San Diego to Maryland.