I still remember his genuine smile and perfect white teeth. But I also remember standing in formation the first day of Army basic training, wondering what the next 9 weeks would bring. I was a rough-around-the-edges 21 year old who was skeptical that I would learn anything “new” from the Army. But this “squared away” man in front of me was determined to break us down and build us back up into the potential soldiers he saw within each of us. I would watch this man closely both in and out of duty. He never used a derogatory word, never placed his hands on another soldier in anger, his uniform and boots were maintained at the highest standard, and he showed chivalrous respect for his wife and other women. He was always paying attention to detail and during grenade training he pulled a soldier over a barricade without hesitation after she dropped a live grenade. He was a great example of what a Godly man who faithfully serves his country and the tears in his eyes were hard to witness as I stepped on the bus headed to my next stage of training (AIT). My biological father quit having an interest in my life at a young age but thankful I have since had other influential men to mentor me along the way. I have realized that many of my mistakes were misguided attempts to be recognized and fill a void only a father’s approval can fill. Everyday I am thankful that I know The Father we all have in Jesus but we should never forget our earthly “fathers” like Drill Sergeant Cherry. Thank you.
Matt Kellum, PT, DPT, MEd