Tom Gunter


As Interviewed by Aidan Gunter, March 19, 2015

Tom Gunter: In His Own Words

I joined the military mainly to get away from the farm life I was living. If I joined I would have a purpose in life. When I joined it had a huge effect on my family, but mainly me. I was the youngest of the family, so when everyone had gone their separate ways I decided to go my way. We were a poor family that lived on a ten-acre farm. My father was a truck driver and my mom didnít work so when I left it helped. As a kid growing up you either end up in prison or you would be pushed into the military.

While I was gone not only did I change, but so did my town. The town I lived in was a suburb of Fort Worth and while I was gone it matured and basically grew up.

I originally joined the Air Force and trained for that. To continue, I was shipped overseas to Japan where I then became a policeman. And there I went through physical training and learned a lot about the law.

I worked as a security guard. During the missile crisis in the Ď60s I guarded missile silos from people. I remember one time when a person actually tried to take over a missile silo. I once had to shoot ďatĒ someone. I may or may not have hit them, but I would prefer to say I didnít.

I was deployed longest in Germany, but I also went to other places such as North Dakota -- where I was deployed for two years.

In the military my favorite part was probably the traveling. Where else could a silly little boy from Texas travel halfway around the world and see as much adventure as I did.

On the other hand the most enjoyable part was training the dogs. In Germany they asked for volunteers to work with dogs, and my hand went up quicker than smoke. They accepted me and I was put through more training. I was then paired with this beautiful German Shepherd named Jerry. This dog was very loving but could also be very ferocious. He would attack when ready and he knew his job. If something caught his nose while we were working he went right for it. There was only one time he ever backed up instead. We were around some missile silos and there was something in the bushes. I never found out what it was because when he backed up we all backed up. We would not go near it. I have a suspicion it was just a wild pig, but we canít be sure.

The second dog I trained was a dog named Hitler. This dog could not be handled by anyone so I tried to work with him. He was very aggressive. It got to the point where you couldnít breathe around him without him attacking. He was quite a dog. I worked with him for about a year until I quit.

It was a lot of fun to train them, but also challenging. You had to put a lot of trust into your dog. You learned to put your life with this animal because it would protect you. Both of my dogs did that.

Coming back home you kinda just fell back into life. I came out of Germany with a strict understanding of responsibility.

After the military I worked in more security. But I ended up working at a sheet metal factory making lockers. I did get a good education from that because of all the math and geometry I had to use. Then after eight years of the factory I went to college and became a teacher.