Roger Sheakley, U.S. Army, 1973 – 1976

Roger Sheakley served as an E3 in the 568th Transportation Company at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Roger Sheakley went to boot camp in Fort Ord, California where he ran 20 miles a day, every day, starting at 3:30 in the morning.  Mr. Sheakley said he had been playing lots of basketball so was in pretty good shape. 

One day he received the Expert badge twice in one day for shooting, “…our lifestyle (in Hoonah) is hunting…deer meat, seal meat…when the Sergeant told me to hit the zero, it only took me three shots.”  The sergeant was so impressed he called another one over and they watched Mr. Sheakley repeat his performance.  At the end of boot camp, his Dad came down to watch him graduate. 

He served in the 568th Transportation Company (radio call sign “Rivet Benders”) a maintenance unit, its mission to provide General Support and Direct Support for all United States Army aircraft in Alaska.  Mr. Sheakley was stationed in Fort Wainwright, and was struck by how in the summer, the sun never seemed to set, and in the Fall and Winter, it never seemed to get rise.   

Because of his position and rank, he had his own jeep and his own office.  Though he trained for a variety of duties, “I never did one of them because the Captain would come out and say ‘Let’s put in some hours’, so we flew around to the camps up North” in a helicopter.  He spent a great deal of time flying every day, sometimes seeing polar bears and various other animals. 

Mr. Sheakley had Airborne training and said the first time jumping out of the plane it tickled his stomach, but then “I got used to it like everybody else.” 

After his service ended, Mr. Sheakley used his VA benefits and went to college right away, majoring in Business Administration.  He got a job with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

One thing he appreciated about the service was all the travel he was able to do.  “The only time people left hometowns was to go out fishing.”  The Army showed him other towns and other people.  “It was great to get out of town and travel, see different areas.”

His final thoughts were “I think we just did our duties to the country.  I think I took that oath three other times…”  One was to be the Public Safety Director for Prince of Wales Island; one was to be a policeman and another when he worked for the Office of the Ombudsman.  “I’m kind of glad to be able to participate in the service…”