Walking into Maj. Bradly Carlson's office, it is evident that a proud and noble army officer works there.
"Waking up every day, I view myself as an army officer through and through. It's something that becomes a part of who you are," said Maj. Carlson, 29.
Plaques, souvenirs and banners adorn the walls while memories of war and battle line the shelves.
"When you are there on the ground, you are immediately fighting for each other and trying to get each other home. But the larger aspect of it is this is something that you can be proud of. It's larger than life," Carlson said.
That larger than life perspective is what Maj. Carlson lives by, not just for himself, but for his family and his students at Texas Tech University.
"The biggest thing is just giving back to these students and developing them to lead soldiers. That is my main goal here by working in the ROTC department," he said.
Originally from Minnesota, Carlson began his military journey in the ROTC program as well, while attending St. Cloud State University. Then at the young age of 17, he asked for his parents' permission to enlist in the Minnesota Army National Guard however, his mother was very apprehensive.
"I told my mom there is no way that we are going to war, at all. This is the best deal going to school. This was in February 2001. And she believed me."
Then just seven months later came the September 11th tragedy and Carlson says it is the day that changed his whole life.
"It wasn't, 'If we are going to war,' it was, 'When are we gonna deploy?'" he said.
In 2004, Carlson transitioned to the United States Army and served two tours in Iraq as a platoon leader and a staff officer. During his first tour, he led sixteen soldiers and four tanks through more than 370 combat operations.
"Over the course of the two deployments, I lost many friends. Our unit suffered many casualties. But fortunately for my platoon, we didn't lose anyone," Carlson said.
Carlson's final assignment on active duty was as a tank company commander at Ft. Hood, TX.
"It was a dream come true and it was extremely rewarding," said Carlson. "All the lessons I learned as a young lieutenant and a young staff officer paid dividends in that assignment."
In 2010, Carlson left active duty to attend Texas Tech University School of Law. While in law school, as a member of the Army Reserve, he has continued to serve as an Assistant Professor of Military Science (Army ROTC.)
Maj. Carlson says his goal is to pass those lessons, experiences and mistakes he learned as a young lieutenant on to his young cadets:
"Hopefully the goal is that they become better officers than I was."
Carlson will graduate with both his JD and MBA in May 2013. After law school, he plans on transitioning to the U.S. Air Force as a judge advocate.
Maj. Carlson is also spearheading the first Texas Tech Army ROTC 5k race held on April 27th to benefit the South Plains Honor Flight. This local charity provides airfare for veterans to attend memorial ceremonies in Washington D.C.
"One of the things that we're trying to teach in Army ROTC is that being an army officer is about leadership, it's about giving back to the community and it's about public service. One of the ways we want to do that is to help local veteran's charities," he said.
Race registration is $20 and all the proceeds will benefit the South Plains Honor Flight. If you sign up online, you will receive a T-shirt and a dog tag. The race will be held on the Texas Tech campus. For times and more information click here: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/armyrotc/5k/.
For more Hometown Hero stories, click here.
Copyright 2013 KCBD. All rights reserved.