What I’m about to do for the readers is give a brief introduction of who I am, what I stand for, and how I personally deal with the world’s universal fear, the fear of the unknown.
Some are scared of snakes or spiders or heights, but what’s special about the unknown, is that it is feared by everyone, and everyone deals with it differently.
My full name is Brandon Todd Michael Amerine. My middle name is Todd, my confirmation name is Michael. I come from a family of 8, my parents are still happily married with 6 beautiful children. 4 boys, 2 girls. I’m second oldest.
I am an avid Christian (or so I try to be) and devout Catholic, and I chose Michael as my confirmation name back in high school because St. Michael, the Archangel, is the patron saint of warriors. He is the one who led God’s armies in the battle in Heaven against Satan’s forces and cast those who dared cross God into hell. I’ve always seen myself as a protector, a fighter, a warrior. I felt making St. Michael a permanent part of who I am was fitting.
I am an Infantry Officer in the United States Army.
My first real fear of the unknown came my senior year of high school back in 2009 when I was faced with the decision to pursue my soccer scholarship and continue to play the sport I loved in college, or to chase a dream I had had since I was little boy growing up in a small town in Iowa.
I was fairly certain what the future held for me if I chose to play soccer, but with no one (and when I say “no one” I mean absolutely nobody in my family or circle of friends) close to me who could fill me in on what the military was, I had no clue what was in store if I decided to sign my life away to Uncle Sam. But I did it anyway. I knew deep down that I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and to give of myself for God and Country.
I enlisted as an Infantryman, went to bootcamp, got the everliving shit kicked out of me, and when I finished, decided to continue on with my military aspirations by signing yet another contract with the Army ROTC program at Iowa State University.
At that point in time, I was a hard-charged, ready-for-anything, 19-year-old ready to devote my life to becoming an infantry officer. I wanted to get paid to jump out of planes and helicopters and shoot guns. I wanted to be a part of a brotherhood that looks out for their own and has the camaraderie that my college fraternity only wished they had (not that I didn’t find some awesome camaraderie and parties throughout my time as an SAE in college ;). And upon the end of my time in the ROTC program, it was time to submit my paperwork for which branch within the Army where I wanted to become an officer.
I could have chosen a desk job or a communications job or a supply logistics job. Or I could go with what I had been training on for the past 4 years of my life; infantry. Although it is a far more dangerous job with more repercussions from making a mistake in combat, I knew that is what I wanted to do with my life. If I had chosen any other job, I knew I wouldn’t be tested like I would be as an infantryman at the tip of the spear, leading the sons of American families into combat against the enemies of our Western way of life.
So I took my commission as a 2nd Lieutenant on 21December2013 and got the word I would be heading to the 82nd Airborne Division, The All Americans, upon the completion of all my training I would see in the future. I was nervous to be heading towards so much training, so much punishment that I would put my body through over the course of a year in training. I completed my Basic Infantry Officer’s course, learning tactics and leadership techniques to succeed in combat.
In the middle of my officers course, I got the opportunity to go to US Army Ranger School, one of the most feared and well-renowned combat leadership schools the military has to offer. I didn’t know what would be in store for me. The 63-day course from hell has an 80% fail rate at some point in time throughout the course, causing the student to recycle and start over from the beginning of whatever phase he was in. For 80% of all that attend, those 63 days quickly turn into 84, 105, or even 126 (each phase is 3 weeks long). But for me, I lucked out. I found myself a part of the 20% who made it through first time “Go’s” throughout the entire course.
There were times I was beat down, hadn’t eaten for 20 hrs, and hadn’t slept for close to 3 days. My feet were crushed from having to walk miles and miles on end under a 70-90lb pack. I didn’t know what I was going to do. All I knew was that I couldn’t stop putting one foot in front of the other. I knew that my buddies were depending on me to continue on with the mission and ultimately see it through to mission success. So I did. I gutted it out. Each and every day for 63 days. While I saw friends get left behind that I had formed relationships with, I could only feel sorry or try to help them with words of encouragement for so long before I had to begin focusing on the next task at hand. And before I knew it, I was standing before my instructors waiting to hear if my roster number would be called to graduate, or if it would be bypassed and I would have to recycle.
Thank God, my number was called. I was going to become an Army Ranger.
Upon completing Ranger, I moved on to Airborne School. Along with the fear of the unknown in this school, comes the fear of heights. Shit, I had never jumped out of plane before. Not even with an instructor at a civilian course like Skydiving where you’re strapped in to a professional who knows what he’s doing. I was going into Airborne School blindly. But each and every day that I stepped out from that aircraft in flight, not knowing if my chute would open or not, I would say a quick prayer, and place my trust in God. Obviously, because I’m writing this, I landed safely each and every time. And now, not only was I a Ranger, but I was an Airborne Ranger.
I was now officially qualified to become a part of The All Americans, the 82nd Airborne Division. The greatest unit in the world.
The overarching method that I use, that I feel is the best way (understand I’m not pushing this on anyone who is not religious) for me to overcome my fear of the unknown, is to place my UNDIVIDED and UTMOST trust in God and his plan for me. I learned throughout my time here training as an infantryman and as a leader, that you can’t control everything. That you can’t predict what the outcome of something may be. All you can do, really, is give it your all and place your trust in God. In the end, He knows what your path in life will be and ow you will affect the ones you love and the people you come into contact each and everyday of your life. You’ve just got to be able to realize that when you’re in a hard point in your life, God will bring you out of it how he sees fit. And you’ve just got to understand that, whether the outcome of the situation is good or bad, in His eyes, it is exactly as it should be.
And now that I’ve applied that to my trials and tribulations in the military, I’ve just got to be able to do the same for my upcoming marriage to the woman I love.
Rangers Lead the Way.