Family continues long tradition of military service

By: Bill Phelan
Missouri National Guard Public Affairs

O'FALLON, Mo. -- To say that the Family of Staff Sgt. James McCullough of O'Fallon, Mo. is steeped in military tradition would be an understatement.

Three generations of McCulloughs have served in the Army or the National Guard. McCullough's eldest son, 18-year-old Ryan McCullough, is the latest to volunteer as a Citizen Soldier in the Missouri National Guard.

A 2009 graduate of Fort Zumwalt High School, Ryan recently entered basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. following four months in the Recruit Sustainment Program. Participants in the program get a head start on basic training by learning aspects of military life. And while there is no doubt in the mind of Ryan's father that the program is beneficial, the life of a Soldier was well-known to Ryan long before he donned the uniform.

"My father, the late Thomas McCullough, retired from the National Guard as a sergeant first class," James McCullough said. "His father, James Anthony McCullough, was in the U.S. Army at the very beginning of the Korean War, and my great-grandfather was also in the Army between World War I and World War II."

With that kind of military service history there's no question of patriotism in the McCullough Family, but James said service is about more than that.

"It's about payback," he said. "It's about being involved in something that you are willing to fight for."

James entered the regular Army right out of high school and spent a year in the Army Reserve. He joined the National Guard 15 years ago and was twice deployed to Iraq. Today he serves as the recruit sustainment liaison for the 1138th Transportation Company based at Jefferson Barracks. In his civilian life, James is a chemical engineer for Engineered Lubricants.

As a Citizen Soldier, James has no doubts that his military service is beneficial to his civilian occupation, a message he learned from his father and one he has tried to instill in Ryan.

"It may seem small, but the military ensures that you're always on time and doing what you're supposed to be doing," he said. "It teaches a good worth ethic and not to take things for granted. I've tried to teach Ryan that if you work hard you can make it and live the so-called American dream."

While James made no attempt to recruit Ryan, the educational benefits of military service proved a powerful incentive.

"Ryan didn't have the military bug until half way through his senior year," James said. "Then, all of a sudden he said he wanted to go to college and question became how are we going to pay for it. It became a no-brainer. The National Guard would provide job training and college would be pretty much taken care of."

Following basic training, Ryan will attend advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood and then join his father's unit at Jefferson Barracks, again, a McCullough Family tradition.

"I served with my dad in the 1138th at Jefferson Barracks," James said. "It was rough because I had to set an example. I learned what it was like to have my father in my unit and now Ryan is coming to the unit. It won't be so rough for him."

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