Giving thanks to a gentle giant

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 at 7:07 AM
Giving thanks to a gentle giant  by George Schmidt

It’s the week after Thanksgiving, but I’m writing this in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and that calls for reflection.

I look around and I see a lot to be thankful for. Outside of the obvious family and friends, I am most grateful for all the warriors and those in the Edinboro warrior community that make the transition from military life to college life easier. Most of them I have met through writing this bi-weekly column throughout the semester.

We have also been able to look at some issues facing veterans today, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicides. Both of those strike really close to home for me.

Two of the biggest takeaways from this semester, if you are a veteran student at Edinboro, would be:

1. Have a plan not only for your classes and degree work, but also for what comes next after your degree is finished.

2. If you are experiencing problems or issues — either emotionally, personally, or study wise — you should reach out and ask for help. There are those available who are both willing and wanting to assist you in whatever you may need.

As I look forward to continuing this column next semester, I would like to look at some of our veterans here on campus. I want to share your stories and interview people you feel are making a difference in our warrior community. You can reach me at

As I was taking stock this holiday season, I was reminded of one of my funnier stories from deployment to Iraq. I was a computer specialist on my deployment and a part of a team of four.

Now, the four of us were not your typical computer specialists. We looked more like the starting offensive line for the Fighting Scots football team.

One of the guys on my team was Troy Stambaugh. Stambaugh stood 6 feet and 5 inches tall and weighed in around 260 pounds. He was athletic and quite the imposing figure.

Well, we had this one chief warrant officer that needed his computer repaired.

Chief had really done a number on this computer and it was taking Stambaugh a little longer to repair it than normal. However, like most warrant officers, this one thought he was entitled to special treatment. The warrant officer had never met Stambaugh, because he had sent one of his privates to drop off the broken computer.

This warrant officer had called several times, verbally berating Stambaugh over this computer, stating, “If I have to come down specialist Stambaugh, you will not like it.”

To which Stambaugh replied, “Well, sir, if you want, go ahead and come on down, but it will not get your computer fixed any faster.”

This just enraged the officer, and he stormed down to the shop, busted open the door and yelled, “Where is this specialist Stambaugh!?!”

To which Stambaugh simply stood up and said flatly, “Here, sir.”

You would have thought that the warrant officer was staring at the Jolly Green Giant. The warrant officer, who was a short man, was probably about 5 feet and 10 inches tall, while about 140 pounds if he was lucky. His eyes grew so big I thought they were going to pop right out of his head. The warrant officer was able to regain some of his composure and manage, “Specialist, I was just wondering if any progress had been made on my computer and what time approximately it would be finished... specialist?”

You see, when senior personnel get flustered they always seem to repeat your rank a lot.

“Sir, I do not have a timeframe just yet,” Stambaugh calmly replied, “but I will call you at your office as soon as I know something that way you don’t have to waste your day by coming all the way down here.”

The warrant officer turned heal and left our office as quickly as his feet would take him.

The lesson is to never take for granted the voice at the other end of the phone; it might be connected to a gentle giant. 

George Schmidt is a Staff Writer for The Spectator.

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