By Sgt. Sarah E. Lupescu
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A local Missouri National Guard Soldier closes one chapter and begins a new one after spending 26 years with the military.
Master Sgt. Mike Tanner, the counter-drug operations noncommissioned officer and resident of Jefferson City, served the first four years of his military service in the Marine Corps Reserves in Kansas City before transferring to the Missouri National Guard in August, 1990.
"My dad was always extremely patriotic and raised all of his kids to be patriotic," Tanner said. "When I got out of high school, I didn't have a plan. So I decided to enlist in the Marine Corps with patriotism being one of my reasons for joining.
My most proud moment was standing on the parade deck after 13 weeks of Marine Corps boot camp," Tanner said. "Just making it through that and achieving that title really stands out to me."
Other career highlights include competing in the Winston P. Wilson shooting matches in 2004, earning the title of Soldier of the Year for the Missouri Army National Guard in 1994, and earning the Excellence in Competition Badges with the combat pistol and rifle.
"Earning those competition badges is pretty significant for me," Tanner said. "I didn't get to the distinguished level, but I still set myself apart from a lot of my peers."
During his career as a Guardsman, Tanner spent some time overseas. He deployed in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Tanner also deployed to Kosovo for Kosovo Forces 10 in 2008.
"Another thing that really stands out through the years is coming back into the United States after being deployed," Tanner said. "After Desert Storm, I literally kissed the tarmac because I was so happy to be home. Sometimes you don't realize how amazing America is until you've been away."
All of the accomplishments, deployments, training, and other military experiences couldn't have been possible without the support from Tanner's wife of 16 years, Leslie.
"She has been my absolute, hugest supporter throughout my military career," Tanner said. "She's probably a tougher Soldier than most of us. During the last few years I've been away a lot due to deployments and other assignments so she's had to take care of a lot at home."
Leslie, son Jacob, and daughter Brooke have stood beside Tanner and supported him through everything, Tanner said.
Now that his military career is coming to a close, Tanner has his sights on his future as a military retiree.
"I'm going to take a couple months off and spend some time travelling with my dad," Tanner said. "I'm also going to assistant coach little league ball for my son's team. Starting in June I'm going to attend the Missouri School of Barbering and will take over a barber shop here in Jefferson City."
Travelling with his dad, coaching little league, and barbering aren't the only things included in Tanner's future plans.
"My wife and I purchased a farm," Tanner said. "I call it my training area. I have a classroom and a place where we can go shoot. I'm a National Rifle Association certified instructor so I will be teaching conceal and carry classes and some other marksmanship courses too."
Tanner is currently on leave and is scheduled to officially retire later this spring.
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