Staff Sergeant (SSG) Anthony Stobbe joined the Army National Guard on June 14, 2007 – not just Flag Day but “the Army’s birthday,” he notes. The North Carolina native chose the 171st Engineer Sapper Company primarily because he knew they were going to Iraq.
“I wanted to test myself.”
As if “going to Iraq” wasn’t a tough enough test, SSG Stobbe decided after Basic Combat Training to choose the military occupational specialty (MOS) 12B Combat Engineer – Construction and Engineering Specialist.
In times of war, Combat Engineers are the Soldiers who detect and safely neutralize roadside mines and other explosive dangers – often by detonating them – to ensure safe passage for combat teams and materials.
“I’m not crazy,” SSG Stobbe says. “I just love blowing stuff up.”
His decision to join the Guard after high school and take on such a critically important role was a long time in coming. SSG Stobbe says he knew by the time he was 4 years old that he wanted to be part of the military.
That’s because the commitment to military service runs deep in his family. His father was in the Marine Corps, one of his grandfathers had served in the Army during Vietnam, and the other was a Navy veteran of both World War II and Korea.
SSG Stobbe remembers watching every World War II movie ever released with his Navy grandpa. “I must have seen ‘The Dirty Dozen’ a dozen times by the time I was 6 years old.”
But real life is never quite like the movies. SSG Stobbe is quick to explain that being a Combat Engineer is not for the faint of heart.
The job requires a trained eye to determine whether concrete is just concrete or a part of a bomb. Then, once you find a roadside bomb or other explosive, you need nerves of steel to decide whether it’s safe to disarm it to gather forensic evidence, or whether it’s best to blow it up. SSG Stobbe says they blow it up 95 percent of the time.
A few years after his successful tour in Iraq, SSG Stobbe got the opportunity to test his mettle a second time. His platoon leader and friend – someone he considered to be a role model – asked if he would consider a voluntary deployment to Afghanistan with the 883rd Engineer Company.
The answer was “yes,” and he deployed from October 2011 to October 2012.
“He told me he needed my help. It was an honor for me to go with him.”
Overall, his platoon ran more than 190 successful missions in Afghanistan, finding about 10 IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and numerous UXOs (unexploded ordnance).
Despite such an amazing success rate, there did come a day when a truck in his convoy hit a bomb, and SSG Stobbe was on it. Miraculously, no one was killed, but there were injuries. SSG Stobbe suffered a mild concussion.
Following deployment, he considered getting a civilian job. His MOS had given him the skills for a wide range of civilian occupations, like working for demolition companies, on a SWAT team, or even for private contractors who disable landmines in countries like Cambodia or Vietnam.
But SSG Stobbe decided that he preferred military life.
“I stay in for the brotherhood factor,” he says. “Everything I have, all the good, is because of the National Guard.”
So, SSG Stobbe – who rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant earlier than most and who is also on track to reach his next rank ahead of the curve – chose to become a full-time Recruiter for the National Guard to make a difference in the lives of younger people.
He wants recruits to understand the commitment and the benefits of joining, like career training in more than 200 fields and money for college.
SSG Stobbe is looking forward to the day when the Army opens up his Combat Engineer MOS to women. He wants to be the first to recruit a female into the position.
“I’ve seen what female Soldiers can do,” he says.
If you want to test yourself and a commitment to military service runs deep in your life, visit the Army National Guard jobs board and contact a Recruiter today (perhaps even SSG Stobbe if you’re from North Carolina).