NEWS: Bengal Alumni Veteran, Hershal Walton


Hershal Walton in uniform

Hershal Walton is a Plainfield East High School alumni, from the class of 2014. He ran track along with cross country during his time at Plainfield East and is now serving in the U.S. Army. 

Q- First and Last Name?

A-  Hershal Walton

Q- What branch of the military were you in?

A- U.S. Army

Q- How old were you when you started serving in the military?

A- I was 23 when I first enlisted.

Q- What was your inspiration/motivation for serving our country?

A- It was to change and better myself and put my life back on track. I suffered a lot and fell on hard times after the first few years on my own and to me at the time, the Army was the best way.

Q- If any, what regrets do you have?

A- Not appreciating all the friends and times I had with them even before I joined the Army.

Q- What memories do you value?

A- I can’t forget the time I shared with all the friends I’ve made. They’re the ones that motivate me the most getting through the Army and one of the main reasons why I’m coming back home after I finish my time here next year.

Q- How has serving in the military impacted your life, friendships, and relationships?

A- It gave me a more wide outlook on my life and the world around me. Especially after serving my first year in South Korea and having to rely solely on myself. It gave me that “lone wolf” perspective and served as good training for when I get out.

Q- Did you want to serve when you were a kid, why or why not?

A- I always had day dreams of myself serving when I was a kid. People always told me I wasn’t going  be good enough to join because I was skinny, quiet, and weak, and I honestly told myself it would just never happen because I just could not see myself becoming that sort of person. Years later, look at me now, already two and a half years in and getting out in 6 months.

Q- What words of advice would you give those who are looking into joining the military?

A- The best I can say to them is know what you’re getting yourself into and DO NOT join without a long term goal in mind. The Army can and will benefit your life in many ways if you take advantage of the opportunities given, but without a goal or a purpose to work towards, you’re going to feel like life is just passing you by.

Q- How did joining the military affect your friendships and relationships?

A- Joining the Army gave my friends even more of a reason to believe in me and keep supporting me, and I am entirely grateful to them.

Q- If you could start over, would you join the military again, and why or why not?

A- Probably not.  If I had the chance to start my life over with the same mindset I have these days, the military wouldn’t even exist to me! But there’s no point in regretting and thinking “What could’ve been had I’d fix my past?” All that matters to me now is working on the present and securing my ideal future. This is just the honest truth.

Q- What have you learned from serving our country?

A- That the only way you can truly know how good or bad the military is is by actually joining and serving. Once you’ve entered this world, your life doesn’t just change, everything does.

Q- What misconceptions do people have about you from you being in the military?

A- The biggest misconceptions I get from people would be going to other countries and going to war. Due to the misinformation spread by both local and social media, many people don’t understand what service members go through on a daily basis. Anybody can say all the military does is go to other countries, shoot, fight and kill, but all it takes is an actual service member to tell you what the military is like.

Q- How was training for the military? Was it difficult or easy for you?

A- Basic training from reception to graduation day will always be one of the biggest challenges of my life. Even when I came back home from South Korea to Atlanta Georgia for P.C.S. leave, I could still feel the military discipline and mentality that was instilled into me. It’s a feeling I’m most likely going to  have to take with me when I eventually leave this earth.

Q- How easily did you adapt to the military way of life?

A- I’d say I didn’t fully adapt to military life until my first few months in South Korea. I was still brand new and still a Private (E-2) at the time, so I wasn’t exactly in that military state of mind.

Q- Is there anything you’d like to add?

A- Before I joined the Army, my life from my point of view, felt like a proverbial prison. I was controlled and watched over by both my parents and teachers everyday even when I finally moved out on my own. For a long time I was content with it, but then I realized I wanted control and freedom over my own life. So I needed a jumpstart, something that was going to push me and prepare me for my new life. That was when I told myself I was going to join the Army. From then on, I realized my purpose in life and started dedicating my life to building and strengthening my resolve, my mental fortitude, my future dreams, and myself. As much as I criticize the Army for the many negatives it’s had for centuries, I must always thank the Army for giving me the motivation and push I needed to finally be able to stand on my own and rely on myself. As a kid, I never had confidence, courage, or motivation. Thanks to the Army, I can finally say something to myself that I never had the strength or heart to say as a child. Even if no one ever believes in me, I believe in myself, and that alone is enough. I suffer, I fall, and I break, but I always come back better than before. That is who Hershal Walton is.