After 33 years of moving around the globe, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Stephan Frennier said it’s time to retire and for he and his wife to take up residence in Whitehouse.
But what prompted the soldier, who has done three tours in Iraq and has spent 58 months in combat, to pick East Texas?
Was it the chance encounter at a car wash in Tyler where he met his wife, Carol, the birth of his son at Mother Frances Hospital or were there other reasons?
Frennier, who was born in Worms, Germany, and lived there until he was about 11, said although he was not born in East Texas, he got here as soon as he could.
“I was stationed in Tyler as a recruiter in the 1980s, and I met my wife at the car wash that was on the corner of Troup Highway and the Loop. My son was born at Mother Frances, and I just fell in love with the area,” the 52-year-old career soldier said. “I thought East Texas is where I wanted to retire, so next month we will be moving to our home in Whitehouse.”
Frennier began his career as an 11H anti-armor infantryman at Fort Ord in California in October 1980. He has served as an anti-armor infantryman gunner and squad leader in the 1st Battalion 26th Infantry at Goeppingen, Germany, and section sergeant in 3rd Battalion 7th Infantry at Fort Benning, Ga.
He also has been stationed in Dallas, California, Fort Hood, South Korea and Iraq.
Some of his military decorations include the Legion of Merit 2nd Award, Bronze Star Medal 3rd Award, Meritorious Service Medal 6th Award, Army Commendation Medal with V Device, Army Achievement Medal 10th Award, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, Army Superior Unit Award 2nd Award, Army Good Conduct Medal 10th Award, Korea Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with 4 Campaign Stars, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral 6, Expert Infantryman Badge and Combat Infantryman Badge.
Frennier said he has many memories from his career.
Some of those were unpleasant, but he never wants to forget the sacrifices made by men and women he has served with over the years.
“There are moments in combat in Iraq that initially I might have wanted to forget, but I don’t want ever to forget those great young men that paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
Frennier said he also will never forget his father, who also was a sergeant in the Army, pinning his stripes on him during a ceremony in Germany.
“It has been a great career, and I have loved spending time and serving with the men and women. I will never forget,” he said.
Once back in East Texas, Frennier said he plans on taking a month off and then looking for a job and begin serving his community.
“After 33 years of service, I can’t just sit at home. I need to be doing something. I hope to help veterans in East Texas,” he said.