Friends reunite while on military leave

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By Heather Hagedorn

 Getting in some rest and relaxation from their military service, former Henry County residents and friends Austin Woosley, Kendrick Warren and Chad Banner recently reunited when their leave brought them home at the same time.

Woosley, of Campbellsburg, has been home since Aug. 6 after graduating from the Air Force. 

“It feels surreal to be home. I’ve been gone four months,” said Woosley. “The weeks go by fast but the days are terrible when I’m away.”

Woosley originally wanted to go into law enforcement, but his plans changed after getting involved in the Reserve Officer Training Corps program while going to school. 

“When I was younger I wanted to be a policeman,” he said. “The only way to do that was college credits or prior military service. So, I joined ROTC during Henry County High School and that kind of did me in.” 

He’s no longer sure if joining the civilian police force is still on his radar, but wants to stay on course with his military career.

“Whatever the Air Force needs me to do, wherever they need me to go, I’ll go,” Woosley said about his future. 

What he misses most about being home is relaxing. “Hakuna Matata,” or “no worries,” he said, quoting from “The Lion King.”

Kendrick Warren, now of Shelbyville is home from the Marines on a two-week leave. 

“It feels great to be around my brothers again because they’re so young and I’m their biggest role model,” said Warren. “It sucks being away from them.”

Warren grew interested in serving his country when a Marine encouraged him to join. 

“Summer of junior year I was not ready to go to college yet,” Warren said. “It seemed like a big jump financially and no one is promised a job right out of college. I decided the Marines would be a safer route and better place altogether.

“There are more benefits and you get more out of it — not to mention doing something great for this country and meeting friends for life.”

A Marine got Warren thinking about the service by approaching him and asking if he had ever thought about changing his life.

Warren didn’t know too much about the military, so he had a long talk with the Marine.

“We talked about all these different options, like helping people, my interest in technology, computers and networking in general — all were possible in the Marines,” Warren recalled, “It opened my eyes to a deeper knowledge of the military and I immediately wanted to join.”

At 17 — as soon as he could — he went into boot camp.

“My mom didn’t like that I’d be leaving home. She was shocked because my family expected me to go to college, but very supportive in the end.”

His biggest motivation to join the military was the benefits it would bring. “I don’t want those financial worries for my future family. It will be a stable home.”

Warren’s next step will be four years of active duty and then on to the reserves while going to school and working on his future career goal. 

“I’d like to get a computer science and business degree,” Warren said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever come back to Kentucky. I like the West Coast.”

Chad Banner, now of Shelbyville, joined the Army. He could only come home for eight days, after finishing 15 weeks of basic training. 

“It feels great to be home,” he said.

Banner, unlike Woosley and Warren, has long desired to join the service. “My dad was in the Navy for 21 years and I’ve always wanted to be in the Army my whole life.”

Banner will be stationed in Fort Hood, Texas.

 “Trying to make a career out of the Army,” he said. “I’ll miss my family, including my older brother.”

Brad and Teresa Patton, Warren’s grandparents, have fond memories of the three and feel proud of the decisions they’ve made as adults. 

“I can remember holding Austin and Kendrick in my arms when they were babies and telling them they would do great things, and all three young men have done that and so much more,” Teresa Patton said. 

“We are so happy and proud of the young men they all have become and the paths they have chosen. We support them and stand behind them one-hundred percent,” she continued. “I know it took great courage to make the decision to serve our country. It is an honor and a privilege to know each and every one of these fine young men.”