An Interview with Veteran Larry Sewell
On Monday, November 9th I had the pleasure of sitting down with Larry Sewell, a retired 17-year veteran who served as a commissioned officer for the United States Air Force. Gregarious and outgoing, Larry is now the Vice President of Corporate Culture & Talent for Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us and offer his unique insight on Veterans Day as well his time in the service.
How did you get involved with the military?
In high school, I had been part of the junior ROTC program, so I was familiar with wearing the uniform. In my case I did not intend to go into the military when I first started college at Troy University in Alabama…but I was always thinking about it. During the spring of my sophomore year of college, I decided to pursue a career in the U.S. Air Force by making a commitment to go through all the leadership training courses along with all of my regular college courses.
What did you do after college graduation?
Most people don’t know this, but in order to be a commissioned officer in any branch of the service, you must have a college degree. You also have to select a career specialty, and since I had a business degree, I chose a career in administration. After I graduated in 1978, I went to training at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS for my first training assignment.
My first permanent assignment was at Castle Air Force Base in Merced, CA. My responsibilities included handling all of the administrative and disciplinary activity for the Civil Engineering Unit—I was the only commissioned officer who wasn’t an engineer.
What Was Your most unique assignment?
From 1987-1989 my family and I spent two years on the island of Guam. I was a Captain at the time, and served as Executive Officer to the top ranking officer on the base—the Wing Commander. I managed his schedule, time, and reviewed all documents before they reached him. It was really quite interesting. One thing that most people don’t know is that the majority of officers in the U.S. Air Force are not pilots—I guess you could say that I “flew a desk.”
How would you like for U.S. citizens to remember Veterans?
Fortunately, we have grown beyond how the veterans of the Vietnam War were treated once they returned home. Unfortunately, I think the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York brought a new meaning to it all, and people really started to understand what sacrifice means.
I think what our country does now to honor veterans is fantastic. But if you ask any veteran, they aren’t looking for that—I’m not looking for that. Veterans Day is a great day, but when November 11th comes around, I don’t expect to be treated any differently…it’s just what I did. In fact, there are no special expectations that I would imagine any veteran will tell you they are looking for. It’s just a part of our lives. We embrace it, we welcome it, and I’m glad the public is at a point where we recognize our veterans. I won’t say that I had to do a lot of sacrificing. For me, I wasn’t in any danger, and that I am thankful for. What I did do was a lot of practicing and planning to support a war situation—we all did. It was just part of the job.