By Bill Phelan
Public Affairs Representative
Missouri Army National Guard
As a child, Peter L. Emerson, 31, of Maryland Heights, had dreamed of being a soldier and wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army.
But unlike many childhood ambitions that fade with adulthood, Emerson’s dream became a reality last year when, at the age of 30, he enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard.
“I regretted not joining the military when I was younger, but then found out I still had the opportunity to do it, even as far as I was with my civilian career,” Emerson said. “Because I had spoken to recruiters before my family wasn’t entirely surprised but I think they thought I was sort of out of the woods as far as military service.”
Emerson’s initiation into military service was in the Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program at the Festus National Guard armory. The program trains new recruits in Army drill and protocol before they attend basic Army combat training or boot camp, as it is commonly referred to.
“They prepped us very well for basic training,” Emerson said of his RSP instructors. “The regular Army recruits had never been to a drill before so for them boot camp was a trial by fire. But for me, boot camp wasn’t nearly so difficult. I was ready for it.”
Armed with degrees in organizational studies and strategic communications from St. Louis University, Emerson attended officers’ candidate school and is now a second lieutenant assigned to the Farmington-based 1138th Engineer Company (Sapper), while still maintaining his civilian job as a senior purchasing coordinator for Citi Mortgage.
“Getting the opportunity to lead soldiers was something I just couldn’t pass up,” he explained. “I like management; building organizations and structures, and the leadership side of the National Guard fits really well with that.”
Emerson is hoping to put his management and leadership skills to the test as a platoon leader.
“I want that opportunity to lead a platoon in whatever environment presents itself and see where it takes me,” he said. “I want to see what I’m capable of.”
A Fenton native, 2nd Lt. Emerson is a 1999 graduate of Rockwood Summit High School and is the son of Timothy and Patricia Emerson, of Fenton.