HEROES IN OUR MIDST ~ VALLEY PATRIOT OF THE MONTH – SFC Chadwick Larter and the MA National Guard

By: John Cuddy – Feb, 2024

The Massachusetts National Guard has been defending our freedoms since 1636!

Sergeant First Class (SFC) Chadwick Larter, Recruiting Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) tells his story, in his own words. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, I grew up in Ayer MA where I attended school and graduated from Ayer High School.

I have one other younger brother who later down the road joined the US Marines. While attending school and growing up next to Fort Devens now just Devens, I developed an interest in the military and looked up to military service members. I remember watching 9/11 happen while I was in fifth grade and at that time realized that I wanted to serve and protect my country.

After seeing several of my friends in high school join the various branches of the military I decided as a 17-year-old that MA Army National Guard would be the most beneficial decision for me as it would give me the same training and skills as active-duty army, allow me to pursue a college education and start a civilian career right away.

I enlisted into the MA Army National Guard at Boston MEPS at 17 years old October 31st, 2008, as a 13F (Fire Support Specialist). I chose this because it was something that no civilian job could do but would give me valuable skills that could still assist me in the civilian career.

After enlisting, and before graduating high school, I attended the Recruit Sustainment Program the MA Army National Guard offered to prepare recruits to attend basic. This training happened once every month from Friday night into Sunday afternoon. It served as a mock basic training where drill sergeants prepared us through various activities to physically and mentally prepare us to arrive to basic training prepared. This served extremely beneficial for me and the other high school students that enlisted.

After graduating Ayer High School, I attended basic training and my MOS (military occupational Specialty training) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I learned all the basic skills of becoming a soldier, as well as my job skills focusing on land navigation, communications, and coordinating and directing artillery fire on targets.

Following my unforgettable training at Fort Sill, I returned to Massachusetts. Being in the Army National Guard, I was able to stay within Massachusetts and conduct my service one weekend a month, and my field training for two weeks during the summer, where we would go stay in the field and practice and refine our military skill set. After returning I immediately enrolled at Worcester State College (now Worcester State University). After about a year I volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan, where I served in the Kabul, the capital. I had many great experiences overseas along with lifelong friendships with those I served.

Over the following years of service, I conducted additional in state emergency responses for ice storms and hurricanes. I also went to Germany for a training mission, and a tour to Saudi Arabia. I took a temporary active-duty job to help integrate the US Army’s new combat fitness test in 2018. All this while holding a full-time job as a Corrections Officer for the MA Department of Correction. Now with over 15 years, multiple tours and having attended useful and career enhancing military schools such as master fitness trainer which translates to a CrossFit trainer certification and Joint Fires Observation, as well as college, I decided to dive into working full time for the MA Army National Guard as a Recruiter.

For those out there who are considering the military and especially those young or in high school, and even those who haven’t considered or are undecided, as someone who joined the National Guard at 17, travelled the world, seen other people and how they have lived their lives over the years, do not hesitate to explore this opportunity. So many people count themselves out, get talked out of it by those with no experience or those who are jealous of others’ success, or are afraid to take the risk.

The military should be a first choice not a last one. The military, especially the National Guard wants those who want to develop themselves, who are educated and intelligent. It offers every imaginable opportunity, not only the ability to serve your country, but to get a college education and degree for free or pass it to your spouse or children down the road, for those who immigrated service grants citizenship.
Service in the guard is networking on steroids.

In addition to helping build a resume with highly desired skills, certifications, and leadership experience the people you serve alongside are all citizen-soldiers. They all hold or have held civilian jobs, trade or own a business.

At a young age and fresh out of high school this is paramount to setting yourself up for success. At a minimum, a three-year service obligation is the blink of an eye. When you’re in your late teens three years seems like a huge amount of time but now looking back as a 32-year-old Sergeant First Class with 15 years of service and a successful civilian and military career, 3 years is a blink.

The MA National Guard is the MOST historic military organization in the United States. The Massachusetts National Guard has some of the most deep-rooted history and has been involved in about every major conflict since the Revolutionary War.

Each unit under the MA Army National Guard has its own rich history and its involvement in each. As a 100% volunteer force, every member of the guard since its humble origins as “minutemen” has carried the torch. The first Salem Muster in Salem Massachusetts was a makeup of farmers, blacksmiths, and tradesmen.

Today it has grown and evolved into some of the finest men and women in the country, all with their own backgrounds and skills. Serving our Nation in a military unit that has been defending our Nation since 1636, Sergeant First Class Chadwick Larter, a hero in our midst. If you want to pick up a musket and join him, call the Massachusetts National Guard!

The Merrimack Valley’s American Legion Posts ask all World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans, to call (603) 518-5368 and sign up for an Honor Flight to the Memorials in Washington DC! Veterans of all eras are asked to go the American Legion’s Web site www.legion.org, and join the American Legion, our mission is working with Congress, Veterans, and the Community, preserving our Veteran’s Benefits for future generations and serving all Veterans and their families.

John Cuddy served in the US Navy’s Construction Battalions (also known as the Seabees) after retiring from the US Navy; he earned a bachelor’s in history and a master’s in economics from the University of Massachusetts on the Lowell Campus using the GI Bill. He has been employed in Logistics at FedEx for the last 26 years. If you know a World War II, Korean War, or Vietnam War Veteran who would like their story told, please email him at John.Cuddy@Yahoo.com ◊