Hubbard veteran finds purpose as guidance counselor
HUBBARD — Like most young adults coming out of high school, Army veteran Dan Madeline was trying to find himself and gain footing in the world during the early 1980s.
The Hubbard native had long since taken an interest in joining the military, which was sparked by seeing how service members were portrayed in film. Enticed by a chance to see the world beyond northeast Ohio, Madeline enlisted in 1983 and served until 1986.
“It gave me a few years worth of time to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do,” Madeline said. “You got the chance to see the world, learn a wide skill set and honestly it gave me the self-confidence that would help me out later in life.”
In his current life, that growth in his character has come full circle. He is a guidance counselor for the Brookfield Local School District.
After leaving the service in 1986, Madeline went on to pursue a degree in business finance and economics.
“I was also an EMT when I got out and worked in emergency rooms and I was an anesthesia tech,” Madeline said. “I was trying to blend them together and use a business degree to try to get into pharmaceutical sales.”
He later pursued a teaching certificate, which transitioned into becoming a middle school teacher for 10 years. In his late 30s, Madeline went back to school to receive his master’s in guidance counseling.
In 1983, Madeline made the commitment as an 18-year-old just out of high school to sign up for an experience that didn’t define him but shaped the man he is today.
Madeline stepped off the bus for basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in the summer of 1983.
“I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I wasn’t much of a runner. I wasn’t worried about any of the physical aspects of it beyond that,” Madeline said.
Madeline recalled building a camaraderie among his fellow soldiers in training.
“Some of the skills that were really the most helpful in life were the teamwork exercises that you got to count on each other,” Madeline said.
Some of those men he had to depend on included seasoned veterans who previously served in the Vietnam War.
“Many of them had to go through basic again after being out of the service for maybe 5 to 10 years so they were great for teaching us the little things and role modeling for the rest of the younger guys,” Madeline said.
During his tenure at Fort Dix, Madeline earned a sharpshooter badge during a combat scenario training exercise.
“You were in a foxhole and you’re on a range where they had pop up targets and you had a staff sergeant grading your scoring and these targets would range from 50 meters to 300 meters and you had a certain score you were trying to reach,” Madeline said.
He also earned his expert grenade badge that required being armed with a rifle and dummy grenades. As he navigated around training stations for hostiles, Madeline recalled having to toss the grenades in their designated locations to ensure he was accurately hitting his marks.
He was from a big family, and they supported him with a constant outpouring of letters during basic training. Madeline didn’t see his family again except for a brief moment during his graduation from basic.
But the reunion was shortlived as Madeline was loaded up and shipped to Texas for the next chapter of his military career.
During his tenure at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio in 1984, he began working toward pursuing life as a combat medic.
“Compared to basic training, my time there was more relaxed and to me it was the best Army base in the country,” Madeline said.
There, Madeline described the base like a regular job, waking up to report to training at 8 in the morning and finishing around 4 in the afternoon.
After a spell there, Madeline was stationed thousands of miles away at a base in Nuremberg, Germany.
Still an 18-year-old, he arrived in the country during the cold and gray winter weather.
The moment was not lost on Madeline as he stepped on the same ground where the pivotal five-day Battle of Nuremberg was fought and won by the United States 7th Army to topple a key Nazi regime stronghold.
“It was scary but later turned out to be one of the best (18 months) of my life,” Madeline said of his time working in Nuremberg as a combat medic attached to a field artillery unit.
Leaving Germany, Madeline found himself back stateside at Fort Lewis, Washington, around the summer of 1985 helping support the 9th Infantry Division.
For two months, he then traveled to South Korea to participate in “Team Spirit,” which was a joint military training exercise with the South Korean military.
“I was a medic on the ports where they brought in all of the ships and began unloading them from whatever country they had come from,” Madeline said.
Madeline left the service shortly after in the summer of 1986.