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The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

North Penn JROTC taken by Storm

Maddie Cimino
Sergeant Storm with the colors of the nation he fought for.

Things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but always for a reason.

“I spent 36 years in the military, been around the world, seen some cool things, seen some bad things, and I have experienced a lot. If I went into the classroom as a social studies teacher, I would have to take everything I have learned in the military and put it in a little jar up on a shelf,” SMSgt Robert Storm explained. “I could pull it out once in a while to share some things, but if I can come back as a JROTC instructor and still wear my uniform in a classroom environment, I can tell people every day the things that I have experienced, where I’ve been, how I’ve dealt with it. It was a better fit for me to [do this] than to be a social studies teacher.”

North Penn’s new JROTC teacher Senior Major Sergeant (SMSgt) Storm experienced many of life’s unexpected turns, which led to so many experiences that have shaped him into who he is today.

“I graduated from Boyertown in 1987 and I joined the service in December of my senior year,” Storm stated.

Following his graduation, Storm attended 3 formal military training schools before being deployed.

“I went to basic training for six weeks in Texas. Then I went to Shinute, Illinois for Life Support training, now known as Air Crew Flight Equipment. After that, I went to Combat Life Survival in Spokane, Washington. It is three weeks of living off the land, basically camping,” Storm explained. “Then I went through a prisoner of war camp for about 48 hours. Then I went down to Homestead, Florida for water survival for about a week. There we learned about if you had to ditch in the ocean or bail out, and how to survive there in a liferaft. Then I went to my first base in Germany for [about] 3 years,” he continued.

Even though this seems like a semi-straightforward process, this beginning alone was a curveball.

“I did not know I was going to Germany,” Storm continued. “When I found out I was still in Shinute, Illinois they said “Hey, Airman Storm, congratulations, you are going to Bitburg.” and I was like “What state is that in?” and they said, “Yeah, that’s not in a state. You are going to Germany.””

Although this was not originally Storm’s plan, it turned out to be a great experience, mainly because of the events going on overseas at the time.

“[When I was deployed] the Cold War was still going on so there was still East and West Germany,” Storm stated. “I got to see the fall of the Berlin Wall and go to Berlin when the wall was down, but they still had checkpoints Alpha and Charlie. It was a great time to be over there.”

Although the name suggests differently, the majority of Air Force members are on the ground and work to get the plane in the air safely.

“I started as an airman, learning my job. The one thing that I always got to do in my career field was instruct aircrew for water survival, land survival, and how to deal with the equipment we have,” SMSgt explained. “I was always a “support person”. Very few people in the airforce fly, but there are a lot of people on the ground that are responsible for getting the airplane up in the sky.”

Like anything else, the military is organized by rank and as you move up, your position and responsibilities change as well.

“Originally, I was with F15s and then I was with a KC135 air refueling tanker unit which had a crew of 3. My particular job was to make sure the plane was safe with the equipment on board for it to get off the ground,” Storm stated. “It was just a constantly growing experience of learning how to do things by doing them wrong.”

“After I served 4 years in the military on active duty, I started going to college. So when they were talking about Europe I had a deeper understanding of [the history],” Storm explained. “When I finally settled down and went to college, I was way more focused. I was there to get an A when I showed up to class. I started at a community college in Arizona because that’s where I ended up after [my deployment] in Germany. I went there for two years and then I graduated from Ottawa University [with my teaching degree].”

Teaching, like going to Germany, was not always in the plan, however, it opened up new doors to a life SMSgt would have never lived.

“I never knew I wanted to be a teacher. Most great teachers are born wanting to be a teacher, I didn’t know that. I was forced into teaching aircrew to use equipment, and when I started doing it, I found out that I enjoyed it,” he stated.

While in college, SMSgt was also a part of the National Guard, which he joined immediately after his time in active duty.

“I joined the National Guard right after I got out of serving active duty. Those 10 years while I was [in college and eventually] teaching, I was always in the guard, one weekend a month, two weeks a year,” Storm stated.

“After 9/11, I had the opportunity to return to the guard as a full-time member. In total, I have 36 years in military service, but for the final 22 years, I was in the National Guard as my 9-5 job,” he continued.

After fully retiring from the military, Robert Storm was set on becoming a social studies teacher, until a couple of his friends brought a new idea to light.

“About 8 years ago, two of my friends who were already JROTC instructors said “Hey Sergeant Storm, we know you have a teaching degree, and you want to teach, but have you ever thought about JROTC,” and I have never thought of that,” Storm said.

Not only did the military guide Sergeant toward his future, but it also allowed him to see the world.

“I always wanted to travel, and when I joined the military, I got to travel. I’ve been from Norway in the north, all the way to South Pole Station, Antarctica in the south. And I’ve been from Guam in the East, and if you go all the way west and back around, I’ve been to Turkey,” Storm stated. “Everywhere I went, I got paid to go. There are places I went that I worked a lot, but on my time off, I was on vacation.”

For Storm, traveling opened up so many opportunities, and his biggest piece of advice is for people to branch out, and do the same. It doesn’t have to be the world, just go explore.

“Get out and travel. If there is a mountain 2 miles to the east, go on the other side of that mountain because you don’t know what’s over there. And when you get to that mountain, if there’s another mountain, go see what’s on the other side of that mountain.”

Other than allowing Storm to explore new horizons, the military taught him so many lessons that he is forever grateful for.

[In the military], you can learn a lot, and you can get a better perspective of the world if you travel, and meet the people that live there. I was getting on-the-job training for dealing with things around the world because I was there. I had a real broad perspective of the world when I came back,” Storm explained. “When you go in the military you don’t just deal with people that live in Lansdale or Montgomery County, you deal with people from everywhere. I got to meet cool people and hear different perspectives, that you [otherwise] would only read about. I got some on-the-job training of the world just by joining the military.”

Although Sergeant Storm wouldn’t change his experiences, there is one thing that he wishes he would have done differently, that he learned later in life.

“In the military, we would always have groups come out to do a tour [of our facilities]. I always told them ‘If I could go back in time, I wish I would have done better in school.’ I was not the best student because I didn’t know how to use my brain, which I learned in the military.”

Home means something different to everyone. For some, it is a person. For others, it is a feeling. But by definition, it is a place where someone permanently resides. This is the definition that North Penn’s new JROTC SMSgt Storm resonates with most.

“In closing, I lived in Europe for a total of five years, and I lived in Arizona for the last thirty years, but Montgomery County has always been my home. Yes, Arizona is beautiful, but home is always home and when I decided to retire, I wanted to come home.”

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