Albert Schoonover, U.S. Army/Army National Guard, U.S. Air Force/Air Force Reserve, 1987 – 2020
Albert Schoonover served in the U.S. Army, Army National Guard, Air Force and Air Force Reserve over a 33 year period. His father was Hoonah resident Ken Schoonover and his mother was Sharon Wright Brown of Sitka and Hoonah. Ken Schoonover was a cryptographer in the Army and told his son that military service was a good career, honorable, and he wished he had stayed in.
Mr. Schoonover initially enlisted in August of 1986. His highest rank was Sergeant 1st Class (Army). He served in the SAC (Strategic Air Command), 8th Air Force, 2nd Bomb Wing) and the 101st Airborne Division (Army). In 2004/5 Mr. Schoonover was in Iraq, primarily Mosul, and also served in Guatemala and twice in Kosovo. His duties included being a door gunner instructor, a master gunner and an aircraft maintenance instructor, he spent 15 years as the main door gun instructor for his unit.
He said that he was skilled at polishing boots- he could put a mirror shine on them- this helped him get through boot camp because, in return, other enlistees took care of his bed and locker duties for him.
While in Iraq, Mr. Schoonover’s lodgings were in the “VIP” palace, formerly the residence of the sons of Saddam Hussein: Uday Saddam Hussein and Qusay Hussein. He said they ate pretty well there, every Sunday steaks were served. “We occasionally got king crab legs, which I cannot believe, that was something!”
Regarding luck, Mr. Schoonover carried special coins, his orthodox cross and photos. He also said “Everywhere I went, being able to see a raven made me feel comfortable… wherever I was I’d see a bird that was related to the crow or raven and I’d feel better. In Iraq, I didn’t see any for a long time and it started to kind of bug me… then one day I saw one and I felt a lot better. I had a couple times where a blackbird would land above me and caw at me really loud and so I felt good”.
He heard and saw singer-songwriter, guitarist and political activist Ted Nugent a couple times- once in Kosovo- and when Nugent saw him on an airplane in his uniform he shook Mr. Schoonover’s hand and thanked him for his service. He also met Randy Couture, an American actor, former U.S. Army sergeant, retired mixed martial artist and former collegiate and Greco-Roman wrestler, spoke with him, and shook his hand.
Regarding military service, Mr. Schoonover said “It’s a calling and it’s a fear you overcome and I think that our guys (Alaska Natives) are more prepared for that type of life because they would step up for their family… I appreciate all that they have done for our country… there’s been many family members that have passed during wars, through the different wars… it’s all tough, it’s all loss and it’s a hard thing to do. When you lose family members it’s especially tough if you’re not 100% backing or liking what’s going on, but the fact that they stepped up and served their country honorably… it’s the ultimate sacrifice.” Mr. Schoonover is named for Hoonah son Ronald Albert Greenwald, Rank SP4 Specialist Fourth Class, who died February 12, 1968 in Thua Thien province, South Vietnam.