Training that transfers

Kingsford grad returns to tech center after 23 years in Army

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Major Jason E. Decker speaks with students at the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School Tech Center in Kingsford. As part of the Salute to Service initiative, senior-ranking officers are sent to their hometowns to talk with high school students about their experiences in the U.S. Army. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Marguerite Lanthier)

KINGSFORD — Command Sgt. Major Jason E. Decker returned Friday to the school where his technical education started.

Decker was back in the area with the Salute to Service initiative, in which senior-ranking officers return to their hometowns to share their stories. It’s part of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, which recruits, trains, educates, develops and builds the army.

Decker chose to talk to students at the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School Tech Center, where he was a student from freshman through senior year. He told the students he is doing “everything I loved to do” with a trade certificate.

Decker said he took auto mechanics and auto body classes at the tech center, along with aviation classes by the airport.

“I chose to come here because this is what we train on here. Everything we teach here is what we do in the Army,” Decker

He is a 1998 graduate of Kingsford High School. He said he tells everyone he meets he was a Flivver.

He was selected as the new Ordnance Command sergeant for the U.S. Army Ordnance Corp & School in Fort Lee, Virginia, in July 2021.

They oversee 30 different military occupational specialties, for people skilled in electronics and mechanics, and they teach things such as explosive disposal. The army offers many jobs for people interested in technical fields, Decker said.

Most equipment in the military is based on what is produced in the civilian world, so when students learn trade skills they can transfer to military uses, he said.

Decker credits his mother for getting him started in the military. She was a teacher for 30 years in Norway. The mechanic she took her vehicle to was also in the National Guard.

“She must of been venting to him because I was hanging engines in trees, so he invited us to come to the armory,” Decker said.

He signed up with the National Guard in 1996 as a junior in high school.

Later, while attending Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wis., he wasn’t sure which direction he wanted to take in his life. He decided to join the active Army on Feb. 23, 2000, as a 63B light-wheeled vehicle mechanic.

“I am so honored and humbled by the journey. I love what I do.”

He has been in the military for 23 years and hasn’t decided when he will leave, but he can serve up to 34 years.

In the future he would like to get into quality assurance in the automotive industry, he said.


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