Retired guardsman honored for double duty
For 24 years, Rick Reid balanced two professional roles.
On one hand, he worked for the N.C. Department of Agriculture (NCDA) and Consumer Services. He worked in the field of structural pest and pesticides, rising to a supervisory position.
On the other hand, Reid became a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard, serving in multiple wars abroad, as well as training and advising new enlistees.
Reid, a Newton resident, retired from the National Guard in 2010 after 24 years of service. He was recently honored by the president of the United States.
Reid, a supervisor in the NCDA’s Structural Pest Control Section, was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal from the United States and a Certificate of Appreciation from President Barack Obama.
The state of North Carolina also presented Reid with a Meritorious Service Medal and a framed North Carolina state flag. He also received a Certificate of Service from the National Guard Bureau, and his wife, Virginia, received a Certificate of Appreciation for her support of the Guard.
“I just feel grateful for the opportunity to serve my country and serve my state,” Reid said. “I have received such satisfaction from helping the citizens in North Carolina and my country.”
Reid joined the National Guard when he was 35. Originally, he thought he’d only serve for six years. Yet after being called to active duty in the Gulf War and assisting local relief efforts following hurricanes Hugo and Floyd, Reid was hooked.
Once he decided to stay on, Reid assumed more leadership roles with the National Guard and eventually rose to the rank of master sergeant. He said the position allowed him to work closely with enlisted personnel in the field, which he enjoyed thoroughly.
Reid served in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as well, adding that the hardest part was separation from his family. He once went three months without speaking to his wife and children, he said.
At the same time Reid was serving with the National Guard, he was also moving up the ranks at NCDA.
After beginning working with Structural Pest Control in 1994, he was promoted to a supervisor position in 2002 and is currently the western field manager. He supervises a team of six inspectors covering 51 counties from Murphy to Mebane.
Reid said both roles required their own leadership style.
“The mindset was very different, and I had to constantly readjust from military to civilian, which was not easy at times,” he said. “I’m very grateful to my NCDA co-workers who have understood this transition all these years.”
During his service with the National Guard, Reid also worked with the military police and became a chaplain’s assistant — a move that would later lead him to become an ordained minister.
While serving as a chaplain’s assistant, Reid learned how important mental training is for soldiers.
“It’s not to train them to be psychologists. It’s to train them to look for signs of a soldier looking to have symptoms of depression,” Reid said. “It could save a soldier’s life.”
Currently, Reid is an ordained Anglican priest and was an ordained deacon at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Hickory.
Reid now plans to start a new Anglican church in the Newton-Conover area.
“There’s no Anglican church in Newton and Conover and the nearest one is in Hickory,” Reid said. “There is a need for that in this area so that the folks don’t have to travel as far.”
He said planning for the new church will be in “full tilt” starting in January.