Staff Sgt. James Secriskey

Staff Sgt. James Secriskey is an unusual sight in Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery, where the 52-year-old veteran is undergoing late-life Combat Basic Training to re-enter the Army Reserve.

At 52, most people are beginning to think about retirement and life spoiling the grandkids, but for one recent graduate at Fort Sill, this is just a continuation of an Army career that began in 1995.

Staff Sgt. James Secriskey first graduated basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., as a public affairs specialist in 1995. Like most soldiers, he re-enlisted a couple of times before going in search of the fabled greener grass on the other side of the fence in 2008.

As a civilian, Secriskey worked several positions but the one he held the longest was as a caretaker for the Catholic Church’s Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in Blair County, Pa., near his hometown of Lilly.

As far as why the 52-year-old wanted to come back in after over a decade of being out, Secriskey said, “I wanted to continue to serve my country, plus I wanted to try to get to my 20-year mark, and I kind of miss being in the Army. So I just wanted to come back and try to pick up where I left off.”

New recruits spend an inordinate amount of time getting yelled at by drill sergeants and paying for real or perceived infractions with exercises, and while Secriskey said he enjoyed his share of both, because of his maturity and past experience, he was able avoid most of those sessions. He was able to act as mentor to many of the young soldiers in his platoon who were curious about life after basic and how to avoid the all-seeing eyes of the drill sergeants, which he was happy to do.

Ordinarily, prior service members coming from the United States Marine Corps or coming back into the Army would not have to repeat basic training, but a rule change shortly before Secriskey re-joined required him to go through it again because of his break in service.

Now, Secriskey will join his reserve unit, Forward Support Company, 458th Engineer Battalion in Johnstown, Pa., where he hopes to get a full-time position or even return to active duty.

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