The military is the best place for a young person, says Pastor Wesley Dobbs.
He knows. He joined up just a few months after graduating from Fairmont Senior in 1959. During his two years in the Army and two more in the 201st Field Artillery Regiment of the National Guard, he learned a lot.
He learned self-discipline. Focus. Training. And patience.
Stationed in Germany for 19 months, he was trained as a battery clerk, the one to handle all the paperwork for his master sergeant and colonel. When his time in the Army was up, he signed up for the National Guard.
“If you have no ambition for college, then you know you can go into the military. You can get your schooling, pick up a trade if you choose, get paid. That makes a difference. Even if you join when you’re 18, 19, and stay for 20 years, you’ll still be young when you get out and can still get a good job.”
As a Marion County home confinement officer since 2002, he has learned the self-discipline it takes to make it in the military and out in the world.
The military also offered a few other perks.
“It’s a great way of life,” he said. “I would never have seen Germany if I were not in the military.”
With Frankfurt just miles away, Paris not that much farther and Russia “right across the border,” he lived in the thick of history. As he patrolled the Berlin Wall, he could see Russian soldiers on the other side doing the same.
He did not serve in Vietnam, but two brothers did and made it back. Unfortunately, he lost some friends in that war.
“I see self-discipline lacking right now in our young people,” Dobbs said. “Military training is good training. In the military, you can’t do just what you want to. Everything is timed.”
The fundamental elements of military life — getting up at 4 for reveille, enduring basic training, obeying commands — teach a person well, he said.
“If you receive what they try to give you, you’ll be a better man or woman,” he said.
Whether working for the city, as a home confinement officer, in the mines or at the pulpit, he has taken those lessons and applied them to his life.
“I knew I could do what I wanted to do,” he said. “I knew I wanted to better myself. I saw in the service that you can be all that you want to be if you apply yourself. The military prepares you for the outside world. So many people have a chip on their shoulders. They think the world owes them this or that. But the world owes you nothing. You are here only by the grace of God. You are responsible for whatever you do.”
That’s how he brought up his three sons.
“I tried to bring them up in the way the military taught me,” Dobbs explained. “I told them nobody owes them anything. You work for whatever you get.”
And they did, with the eldest and middle sons serving in the military.
“I told them if you don’t want to go to college, do something with your life. Don’t just hang around the streets,” he said. “I see so many young people doing that and their lives going down the tubes. Every person has to have a goal. I would hate to think of waking up in the morning and have 24 hours of doing nothing. I couldn’t stand that.
“The military makes a difference.”
His military training gave him the patience he needed to find his true calling in the Baptist church.
“I felt God helped me 100 percent,” he said. “I just felt deep inside I was to do more than be just a church member.”
He originally started his life as clergy in another denomination, but after a while realized his true place was in the Baptist church.
“The military taught me I had to have focus. If you focus, you can make it,” he said. “That and patience all comes into play. A lot of times you don’t see it but then you say, ‘Hey, I can do that.’ And that makes a difference.”
Everything in the military has a purpose, even basic training, he said.
“You may think, ‘Oh, my goodness,’ but they’re trying your patience to see if you’re going to make it,” Dobbs said. “And that’s what life is all about. If you can’t make it in the little things, you can’t make it in the big things.
“There is so much the military teaches you, but you have to take advantage of it,” he added. “You can complain every day until you get out and then do nothing. Or you can come out and say, ‘Hey, I know I can do this.’ That’s what it’s all about.”
His life probably would have been a lot different had he not joined the military.
“Being a veteran means a lot to me,” he said. “Many lives have been lost for freedom. To be able to say I was a part of that and still a part of that ... I thank God for those who have lost their lives. Being a veteran is very important to this country.
“I am proud to have served my country.”
Email Debra Minor Wilson at email@example.com.
The military is the best place for a young person, says Pastor Wesley Dobbs.
- Local News
U.S. Marshals Service, State Police team to monitor sex offenders
The U.S. Marshals Service teamed up with the West Virginia State Police to conduct compliance checks on sex offenders in the northern district of the state.
Operation Spring Compliance began on March 20 and ended on April 20. The month-long operation worked in the 32 northern counties where, according to the State Police Sex Offender Registry, about 1,800 sex offenders reside.
National Drug Take Back set Saturday
The semiannual National Drug Take Back will be held on Saturday.
This event is part of a program launched by the Drug Enforcement Administration and is being locally planned and organized by the Fairmont Police Department and the Marion County Family Resource Network (MCFRN).
Blickenstaff: Put needs in ‘accomplished’ column
Mike Blickenstaff is running for Marion County Board of Education.
He is a Middletown District candidate and is originally from Clear Spring, Md.
Blickenstaff believes Marion County Schools’ biggest facility needs are the same as they have been since the East Fairmont Middle School bond passed in 2010 — completing that building and addressing the needs of other middle schools in the county.
Fairmont to fill vacant council seat
The City of Fairmont is accepting applications for the city council District 2 seat now through Friday, May 9, at noon.
Former Councilman Travis Blosser, who represented the district beginning Jan. 1, 2013, officially resigned Monday.
Blosser announced his intention to resign at the April 8 city council meeting.
Bush’s murder convictions reinstated
Phillip Reese Bush had his two first-degree murder convictions reinstated on Wednesday.
The Memorandum Decision was handed down by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. This decision reversed the Ohio County Circuit Court order from February 2013 that granted Bush a new trial.
Weber would like to be Marion-Fairmont ‘buffer’
With his six years of experience on Fairmont City Council, Daniel Weber is now running as a candidate for a seat on the Marion County Commission.
Weber, a retired theater professor from Fairmont State University, said while he was teaching at the university he wanted to run for House of Delegates but couldn’t because he worked at FSU. It would have been a conflict of interest because delegates choose higher educators pay.
Opposition to Worthington’s annexation proposal surfaces
There was some opposition to the Town of Worthington’s annexation proposal.
A public hearing was held Wednesday at the Marion County Commission meeting for the annexation of 43.28 acres into Worthington. Commissioners heard opinions on the matter but did not vote on the issue.
Mailing on voter registration prompts questions
Concerned voters started calling in to the Marion County Clerk’s office Wednesday after receiving a mailing from the Americans for Prosperity Foundation on voter registration.
Farmington addresses problem properties
The Town of Farmington is focusing on property maintenance, water and sewer issues.
During its meeting on Monday night, council agreed to adopt the International Property Maintenance Code. This code, along with the town’s ordinance, will allow Farmington to better address some problem properties.
‘Something hard’ for Rockefeller turns out to be devotion to service
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., returned to West Virginia Wesleyan College Tuesday to host a public policy forum and reflect upon his time in public service.
- More Local News Headlines
- U.S. Marshals Service, State Police team to monitor sex offenders