LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Wayne Jumper's decision to join the Army in 1981 happened in a blink of an eye.
"We were watching a war movie and said well this is interesting. We didn't have jobs, there wasn't anything to do. So we went and talked to the recruiter and he set us up with a test and just kind of went from there," said Jumper.
The recruiter called him on a Friday and asked him if he could leave the very next Monday.
Before Jumper could change his mind, he signed the papers and called his parents.
Two days later, the eager 19-year old packed his bags and took off to a journey he would never forget. Jumper spent most of his career as a scout.
"They're called the eyes and ears of the unit. We're the ones that go out in front to find the bad guys," said Jumper.
His first deployment was to "Operation Desert Storm" in December of 1990.
"You never know if you're going to make it back on something like that. But we made it back and didn't lose any friends out of our unit during that."
As military personnel know all too well, you gain friends and you lose friends.
"I didn't lose any friends in desert storm but after Iraq and Afghanistan kicked off, I lost a few in Afghanistan."
His next deployment was to "Operation Joint Endeavor" in Bosnia back in 1996 and he remembers that day like it was yesterday.
"There were some times where we were taking artillery fire and with artillery fire you don't know where it's going to hit. So all you can do is just move and hope you don't get hit," he said.
Jumper says the hardest part was being away from his family and the uncertainty of what was happening.
"You don't love every moment because during desert storm or right after 9/11 happened, there's just so much uncertainty."
But that uncertainty faded as he reminded himself he was among the finest soldiers.
"Not only do you have the Army behind you, you have the Marines, you have the Navy, you got the Air Force, and it's a good feeling to know that if you went into a situation you had the best chance of winning."
He spent 21 years of his life protecting our freedom and sacrificing his life on the battlefields.
Although he retired as a staff sergeant a decade ago, his favorite words and motivation back then are still with him today.
"A true solider does not fight because he hates what's in front of him, he fights because he loves what's behind him."