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Friday, July 25, 2014

Cotton field to battlefield

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

(Photo)
Calvin Broughton
JEFFERSON CITY - It all began over lunch.

After a morning working on the family farm, then 17-year-old Calvin Broughton and his father went to lunch at a local restaurant, meeting Jack Mahar, sergeant first class with the Missouri National Guard. After they finished their meal, the Broughtons got ready to leave and the young man told Mahar he would see him later.

"Sgt. Mahar said: 'Yes you will, but you are leaving with me.' " recalled Broughton.

That, he explains, was his rather unceremonious beginning in 1965 with the Missouri Army National Guard.

"It wasn't exactly my choice (to enter the Guard), but I am sure glad it happened," said Broughton from his office in Jefferson City where he oversees not only the federal funds and property of the Missouri National Guard but also for the U.S. Army in Missouri.

When he first enlisted in the Army National Guard, Broughton was assigned to a company of the 140th Infantry based in Portageville. Mahar continued to guide the young man, encouraging him to attend officer training school after three years of National Guard duty. After earning his commission as a second lieutenant, Broughton completed his college degree at Columbia College in Columbia.

Broughton has served in many capacities with the Missouri Army National Guard, from an operations and training officer to commander and director of facilities and engineering.

After receiving numerous meritorious honors, Broughton was offered his current job of United States Property and Fiscal Officer for the state of Missouri. This change of position was one that reassigned him from the Missouri National Guard to the National Guard Bureau.

As a USPFO, Broughton is responsible for all federal resources within the state, reporting to a general in Washington, D.C. With an annual operating budget of approximately $200 million, Broughton oversees a full-time staff of approximately 80 members working in comptroller, logistics, contracting, auditing and data processing divisions, along with overseeing the facilities for the Missouri National Guard.

With an opinion on just about anything, Broughton offered straight from the hips comments on the military and its role. He is a firm believer of the current actions of America's armed forces.

"Due to the military's policy of 'total force,' the role of National Guard could be considered similar to that of any of the other armed forces branches," Broughton said.

Current figures show approximately 500 Air National Guardsmen and 2,000 Army National Guardsmen have been called up to active duty in recent weeks with most of them heading toward the Persian Gulf. There is a possibility of more to come.

Also he noted the Missouri National Guard is closely watching the security level in the state. "As the threat levels change, so do the security levels of the Missouri National Guard," Broughton said. "Facilities increase security, airport patrols begin, monuments and government offices receive added security through personnel" from the Missouri National Guard.

Broughton said growing up in Southeast Missouri influenced his decision to make the military a career. "Many men and women from small towns seem to enroll in the armed forces, especially in rural farm communities. These communities to seem to produce more members of the Guard than larger communities," he said, adding that many of his high school classmates also served in the military.

He credits Hal Robertson with influencing him to make the military his career, rather than a part-time job. Describing Robertson as his "mentor" during his early years with the Guard, Broughton called him the second biggest reason he is in the National Guard today.

The first, of course, would be the sergeant who signed the boy off the farm in 1965. Little did Sgt. Jack Mahar know that the farm boy from New Madrid would grow up to be a Southeast Missourian proud of and thankful for his career with the United States Armed Forces.