There are many paths we could choose from in one’s journey through life. In beginning stages of adulthood, as we graduate high school, we make our first big decisions. For some people going to college is that next step, for others it is the workforce or a branch of the military. While they are all equally important to our society, the beauty is that we have the ability to choose our own paths.
Wilson Read Luther III, 29, of Bristol, Rhode Island, knew exactly where he wanted to go. Coming from a long line of service, Luther joined the United States Army and exceeded his eight-year contract by serving in active duty for nine years. He is now taking on a new mission as a criminology major at the University of Rhode Island.
The armed forces defend all citizens and their rights, however Luther said, “ When you join the army you’re not exactly fighting for the big picture, you’re fighting for the guy next to you.”
Growing up Luther was surrounded by a family of service. His Father, Mark Read Luther, is a former drill sergeant and is currently an assistant chief in a naval base in Newport. Luther’s grandfather and uncles were also engaged in the service lifestyle, most of the men in his family were firefighters, police officers or in the military.
“Serving is a calling, a lifestyle that just fits some people,” said Luther. The women in his family however, did not join the military but displayed service through patient care and nursing.
After serving in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, Luther has experienced a lot. When he first experienced combat he said, “it was a Â shock but then you realize where you are and the training takes over.”
During times of combat Luther has seen things and has had to do things that the average college student could not envision. For example killing an enemy combatant to protect his fellow soldiers and himself.
“There are events that open your eyes to the world, there are events that could even make an avid atheist believe in God,” Luther said.
While on duty as a guard watching a working gate, Luther observed a family carry out a girl, that could have been their daughter. He said they were going to stone her after she had been raped. He wanted to help her but was unable to because it was part Afghanistan’s laws and culture. Â Luther was ordered not to interfere.
“We have to follow orders,” he said. “They are not always right but they are still orders and there is a reason for them.” Although Luther had to go against his personal principles in this situation, he knew that if he had gone against his orders and helped the girl he would have created greater problem and put more people in danger.
There are countries all over the world in chaos and it is the media’s job to inform the world about it. The wars currently taking place in the Middle East, in Luther’s opinion, have not been covered properly by the media.
“People don’t see the real story for multiple reasons,” he said. “The media’s coverage, the restricted information the government releases and the generalized opinions people have formed. If you are not there personally, then you would not really know.” Luther believes that in order to become better informed people must view different news outlets and gather bits and pieces of information to create their own explanation of what is actually happening.
“I have fought, bled, killed and cried so that everyone can have the right to have different views and different opinions,” said Luther.
According to Luther, a soldiers mission is not just to go after the bad guys, in that case you would leave a country destroyed and the people vulnerable.
“Your actions are there to win the hearts and minds of the people,” Luther said. Â “If you can prevent them from joining the enemy, that is one less enemy you have to fight.”
After his time in the army Luther entered URI as a 26-year-old freshman prepared to begin a new and exciting career path. Although there is a almost a ten year gap between Luther and a majority of URI undergraduate students he had no trouble in getting involved and making friends.
“A lot of days,you must remember that not everyone grew up the same way,” he said.
In his three years at URI, Luther has been taking 19 to 21 credits a semester and has been very involved on campus in clubs and organizations like rugby, R.O.T.C and the gamers club. He also pledged a fraternity on campus, worked for the fire department and as a contractor and became a certified fire fighter.
Luther’s daily routines and responsibilities have shifted greatly from waking up at five in the morning and making sure citizens were secured, to getting up and going to school going to school
“I still wake up early,” he said. “6 a.m. is oversleeping for me.”
Luther has been able to successfully transition Â into college and has no regrets of his time serving for the U.S Army, the things he has done and the people he has helped. Luther hopes to work in law enforcement in the federal or state level, but he is not fearful of his future his experiences and the education he is now gaining will open many doors.