If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Story by Master Sgt. David Eichaker
Army Spc. John Shields, a combat medic in Iowa Army National Guard’s 334th Brigade Support Battalion, embraced his long-held dream of service by joining the National Guard while also utilizing military training to fulfill his civilian ambition as a municipal firefighter.
After graduating from Mount Ayr High School in 2019 and attending college, Shields enlisted in the Army National Guard. He recognized it as an opportunity to become a firefighter with a military background, giving him a competitive edge. He finds fulfillment in serving his country and community.
“I always wanted to be a firefighter and figured the National Guard was the best way to get a leg up on the competition,” Shields explained, highlighting the advantages of Guard service, combining his military background and medic training in both worlds.
His military skills have proven valuable in his civilian career, where Shields has received two lifesaving awards.
Waukee Fire Department Lieutenant Josh Hutton notes, “Firefighter Shields continues to be very dependable. He [assists] the crew with everything that is asked of him with very minimal direction needed. He has continued to carry on this trait and is someone you can count on and trust on medical calls.”
Having received advanced first-responder medical training during his 2.5 years as a Guard member, Shields effectively employs his skills to benefit the Waukee community. The Army combat medic’s training exposed him to advanced medical practices, making him a multi-capable care provider.
“We get our EMT [emergency medical technician] training through the Army,” Shields added. “We get a little more in-depth for specifically trauma care and tactical field carry, then we can focus on more different illnesses you may see.”
Shields’ dedication to service extends beyond firefighting, as he instructs and develops combat medics at the Medical Simulations Training Center at Camp Dodge, Iowa. Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew T. Strasser, Iowa National Guard senior enlisted leader, praised him for being an incredible instructor and leader for the State of Iowa and the Army.
“Spc. Shields’ assists in the development and instruction of all 68W [Combat] Medics that rotate through … his demeanor, expertise and general knowledge of the military from participating in the competitions make him an incredible instructor and leader within the MSTC and beyond.”
Shields recently made history by competing at the National level in the Army National Guard National Best Warrior Competition. He reflected on the accomplishment, “I’m actually our [unit’s] first Soldier to compete at the National level. It’s a big deal and groundbreaking for us … a very high honor.”
Strasser highlights the motivational impact of Shields’ achievements, inspiring others to strive for excellence in competition.
“Spc. Shields … has impacted motivation and raised awareness of opportunities for our Soldiers and will continue to be our mouthpiece for what this has done for him personally from a readiness and development standpoint.”
Determined to advance his medical background, Shields plans to start paramedic school and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Firefighter Science Administration to become a fire officer while continuing his career as a member of the Iowa National Guard, crediting the opportunities as Citizen-Soldier as key to making a difference to saving lives in and out of uniform.