Dundalk, Maryland - Baltimore County Officer Craig Willett joined the Army almost 30 years ago. He knows the decision changed the course of his life, but also recalls how the decision didn’t sit so well with his mother.
“She about lost it when I told her, ‘Hey, mom. I’m going to join the military,’” he said. “So it kind of threw her for a loop.”
What followed was Operation Desert Storm, sending Willett to Saudi Arabia with no idea when he’d return home.
After coming back in 1996, he opted for what he thought would be a quieter life with the Maryland National Guard.
“I enjoy the camaraderie that comes from being in active duty,” he said. "I knew that we were always hanging out on the weekends together. We were cooking out, going to wash our cars together and hanging out as buddies for downtime.”
After September 11, Willett and his troops were again placed in harm’s way.
“I started off in Bosnia,” he said. “From Bosnia, I went to Iraq, and from Iraq, I went to Afghanistan.”
Willett still serves as a Sergeant Major with the Guard, but is now a School Resource Officer at Dundalk Middle School.
It was a move he admits took some adjusting, but one he’s evolved into as a mentor, a friend, sometimes a disciplinarian, but always a leader intent on teaching the students one important lesson.
“The world is bigger than Baltimore County,” he said. “You have to be competitive on a global scale.”
If those responsibilities aren’t enough, Willett is also a husband, a father and football and wrestling coach at Patapsco High School.