Basic Camp

Echo Cadet serves community as firefighter, aspires to be Army chaplain

Cadet Ivester a firefighter in his hometown, plans on joining the Army to become a chaplain. Photo by Jake Pope.

Cadet John Ivester, already a firefighter and EMT, plans on joining the Army to become a chaplain. Photo by Jake Pope.

By Crystal Allen 
Leader’s Training Course

John Ivester’s career path puts him in harm’s way almost every day. Whether it’s pulling families out of a burning building, saving the ill or protecting his nation, it’s worth the risk to him.

Ivester has served as a firefighter and EMT for the past five years and will continue to do so when he goes back to school at Georgia Military College. For now, he’s at the Leader’s Training Course with Echo Company hoping to be commissioned after receiving an associate’s degree.

“I felt a calling in my life to help other people, and this is the next best thing to the fire department,” Ivester said. “I could help people on a larger scale. I feel like the United States Army is the largest and most powerful organization in the world, and that it was perfect for me to enter here.”

Being in the Army and being a firefighter have obvious similarities; a focus on safety and people. One of Ivester’s biggest motivators, his mother, helped lead him to both. She used to always tell him, “If you can’t do something good for somebody, then there’s no real point to be on this earth.”

Ivester’s firefighter experience has helped him at LTC because of their similar environments.

“It’s one of those things where you’re definitely watching out for one another all the time,” he said.

Although Ivester hasn’t had any prior experience with drill sergeants, it doesn’t bother him. Being a firefighter has put him in even more stressful positions that will prepare him for the Army.

Not only has it improved his reaction to stressful situations, it’s helped him become even more of a leader than he already was.

Seungtek Oh, a junior at Mercer University, met Ivester prior to coming to LTC. Their colleges are affiliated with one another and Mercer and Georgia Military College hosted a three day pre- camp to LTC where Ivester and Oh were battle buddies.

“He’s definitely a lot better person because he served in the fire service,” Oh said. “When he talks, people listen. He knows what to say and when to say it.”

While at their pre-camp, Ivester and Oh spent a lot of time together. As battle buddies, not only did they see each other in training but they also had to sleep in the same room, giving them much time to talk and get to know one another.

“He doesn’t have any real fears,” Oh said. “He would just step in and do what he has to do. He’s not afraid to step in as a leader.”

One of the key qualities to being a good leader is being a good motivator, and Ivester seems to have that down. Oh described Ivester as interesting.

At LTC the third platoon Cadets of Echo Company have a nickname for Ivester, “Wiki,” short for Wikipedia. Ivester is full of random facts many people don’t know, and he uses them as motivation to cheer up the Cadets.

When the Cadets are in a stressful situation, Ivester tells them something interesting. Oh said he always walks away from the day learning something new.

After graduating college, Ivester hopes to branch military intelligence and later go into the chaplain corps. In 10 years, he sees himself out of the Army being a pastor, doing whatever God calls him to do.

“What motivates me the most is knowing that other people out there are in need of help,” Ivester said. “I take the book from Isaiah, ‘If not me, then who?’ ”


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