Retired Master Sgt. Tracy Laughery (Photo by Bob Seyller/Missouri National Guard)
By Jennifer Archdekin
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - Nearly a quarter of a century of military service goes to the credit of one Blue Springs man, but the tradition of service doesn't begin or end there.
Tracy Laughery recently retired as a master sergeant from the Missouri National Guard with 24 years under his belt. Leading the way of his military career was his father who served in the Arkansas National Guard and grandfather who was in the Kansas National Guard.
Laughery chose to continue his Family's military tradition when he first enlisted with Company C, 110th Engineer Company in Lexington as a personnel administrative specialist in 1988 when he was 17 years old.
"I'm a third generation National Guard Soldier, so my Dad really had an impact on me very early on," said Laughery. "While I have known so many influential people in my career, I will say though that many of the people that started me out on a positive note, each time in my career, were all recruiters."
Laughery applauds his own recruiter, Staff Sgt. Larry Simpson, who helped him join the Guard 24 years ago.
"I thought he did a fine job, as I was a little unsure at first about enlisting," said Laughery. "He taught me my most important lesson at successful recruiting -- patience and understanding."
That lesson stayed with Laughery as he began his own career as a recruiter in 1992 working out of St. Joseph. In 1993 he was named Recruiter Rookie of the Year in Missouri. With his retirement, Laughery also steps down as the Area 2 Recruiting and Retention noncommissioned officer in charge based in Kansas City.
Aside from the uniform, Laughery said he will miss those he worked with most.
"I will miss working side by side with my recruiting team in Kansas City," said Laughery. "I was so fortunate to have a great crew of recruiters. I think we really did some great things here together."
Laughery's advice for those Soldiers just starting out in the military career field is pretty simple, but he's quite emphatic about it.
"Go to college," said Laughery. "It is absolutely imperative that troops make the time to go to school while they have the opportunity. I know that it can be taxing and it can be challenging. I struggled to put myself through six years of college while working fulltime and it was very difficult at times, but so well worth it."
Laughery is less than a year away from completing his master's in finance, which he said was almost completely paid for by the National Guard's federal tuition assistance program.
It's evident the National Guard has made a great impact on Laughery's life. As a fourth generation Citizen-Soldier, his son, Jordan, is currently training to be a military police officer at Fort Leonard Wood.
"I look forward to watching my son as he begins his military career," said Laughery. "I was very proud to see him join the Missouri Army National Guard."
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