Art teacher Tim Baker and Spanish teacher Mark Boyd both serve in the Georgia Army National Guard on active duty. At least once a year, both men are called to one of many different populations to protect and serve. “This allows me the opportunity to be with a group of guys who are grounded, they all serve,” said Sergeant Major (known at GAC as Mr. Baker.)
After 30 years of serving on missions domestic and foreign, Sergeant Major Baker has experienced almost every level of opportunity that the National Guard has to offer, from serving in Afghanistan to conducting training missions to the local states of emergency.
“We can train, we can conduct exercises, we can serve overseas, but when you’re dealing with your own community, it becomes even more meaningful,” Sergeant Major Baker said. “This is where the rubber meets the road.”
While their requirements for active duty status are at least once per year, soldiers could be called to report at any time. When disasters strike close to home, Baker and Boyd report for duty. The members of the National Guard are the first called-upon by the governor when disaster strikes in-state. If the devastation is great enough, members could be called into different states to aid in disaster relief. For example, Hurricane Harvey required units from 10 other states. According to Sergeant Major Baker, “All local authorities work together to find the best way to get life back on track.”
The GAC faculty members were both deployed to the hardest hit regions of Georgia in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Approximately 1,000 of the 11,100+ soldiers were sent into active duty in response to the hurricane.
Captain (otherwise known as Señor) Boyd was the head liaison to ground officers in Dougherty and Baker Counties. “We were able to help over 60,000 people and probably save their lives,” Boyd said. “There was no food, electricity, or water. Within the week we were there, I don’t know how many people would’ve died [without the supplies and assistance brought in].”
While the men serve their communities and country humbly and out of dedication, their motivations to join mirror something familiar in the GAC fabric. Both men spoke of being called to the military for a sense of community and fellowship.
“I originally joined the army so I could share the gospel with my fellow soldiers,” Boyd said. “People reach out to God because the army brings you to the end of your self.” Boyd knows that in moments of challenge that those are the times when he relies on God the most and can share that strength with his peers.
Baker is stimulated by the sense of competition and teamwork embedded in the military culture. “I believe God designed us to be a part of a community and to serve… to be a part of a group that is fighting for something,” Baker said. “In a sense, it’s bigger than just being a member of a team and striving to accomplish something--You are fighting for freedom.”
In a culture that leans into strength and camaraderie, both men have found a second home and the ability to serve both their state, their country, their families, and their faith.
“I’ve told myself I’ll stop being a part of the military when I am physically incapable of doing it or when I am no longer a benefit to the group,” Baker said. “Hopefully, I will recognize that and that’s when I can walk away.”