Let us take a moment to spotlight those within our membership who served the United States in the armed services. First up is Trent Thompson, a member of ABC of Springfield and the Amtryke Advisory Board. Read on to learn more about Trent. 

Tell us about your military service:

I enlisted in 1988 and spent 22 years on Active Duty with the Illinois Army National Guard which included a couple combat deployments; missions in Panama, Honduras, and Poland, to name a few; and assignments which continued to grow me professionally and then retired at the rank of Major in 2010.

Just 2 years after enlisting, I deployed for the first of many times with Operation Desert Storm in 1990. In 1995, with just shy of 8 years enlisted time, accepted my Commission as a Second Lieutenant. Early assignments included Platoon Leader, Detachment Commander, Company Commander, Battalion Operations Officer, and Plans & Operations Officer for the Director of Logistics. In 1998, a new program called the Civil Support Team (CST) Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) put me into a realm that I had no idea would become my future focus.

In December of 2000, at the rank of Captain, I transitioned into the realm of Homeland Security and Anti-Terrorism. This began my career in Emergency Preparedness as well, as I became the Primary Military Liaison to Civil Authorities. As if the 7 months of training schools and supporting flood and tornado response events hadn’t taught me enough, “9/11” happens. As we all know, this changed our lives significantly. From overseeing the deployment of nearly 500 guard members to perform security at nuclear plants, airports, and military bases around the state of Illinois to supporting the CST WMD deployments for suspected terrorist hazards, the world of “Homeland Security” became all-encompassing.

Somewhere within here, I was given an assignment that may be one of my most rewarding opportunities, Aide-de Camp to the Adjutant General. Travelling across the country (over 30 states) and around the world (9 countries), it enhanced my perspective of military operations. Fast forward to 2008, as a Major, I had yet another amazing opportunity. I was selected to be the Executive Officer of the 634th Logistics Task Force as part of the 33d Infantry Combat Brigade Team, for deployment to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Phoenix VIII.

Just over a year later, we safely returned home in late 2009. I ended my military career in 2010 with retirement and then embarked on the civilian chapter of my life.

How did your military experience affect your life today?

Ha, how about, “How did my military career prepare me for my life today”?

Following retirement, my craving for that adrenaline high and endurance-focused endeavors continued. I started with multi-sport adventure racing and then transitioned into ultra-distance mountain bike races. While these events were tough and painful and took tons of dedicated training, planning, and logistics support, my military mind-set and experience prepared me well. When it got tough and/or miserable, “Embrace the Suck” would make me grin and bear it! Then, in January of 2019, some medical issues took me off the bike and away from my passion to ride. I give credit to a lot of things that kept me positive and kept me going, and one of those things was my military background. It’s helped me endure what has been thrown at me and well, it’s all good.

Tell us about your experiences with AMBUCS and Veterans:

I’ll start with how the American Business Club of Springfield partnered with and supports Veterans. During our Fall Amtryke Giveaway in 2019, as the Amtryke Committee Chair, I was asked to prepare a Tadpole that was returned to us, to be given to another Veteran. We had a great day presenting Amtrykes to about 10 kids that day with some amazing reactions from both the recipients, their parents and even grandparents. But if that wasn’t enough, as the kids were enjoying their trykes, the club gathered for one more presentation. As I looked around, I couldn’t figure out who or where the Veteran was, that we were about to present a tryke to. After a few words from then Chapter President Kelm, they presented the Tadpole to me, yep, I was that Veteran, receiving the Amtryke. I know what that Amtryke has done for me and know how an Amtryke can help my fellow Vets. Over the past several years, we have provided over a dozen Veteran’s with an Amtryke, including a few of them that I served during my career. I’m not sure there is an organization that I am prouder of being part of, as I am of AMBUCS and the ABC of Springfield! Thanks for what you all do for our Veterans!

Why did you become an AMBUC?

It all started with wanting to be part of the Amtryke Program. As a cyclist, I thought, “this will be awesome to help provide a means of mobility” to kids with mobility challenges. However, I didn’t anticipate the impacts it would have on me, especially when we provide an AmTryke to a recipient and see how it changes their lives in such a positive way. Remember when I mentioned the adrenaline thing earlier, yah, it’s a similar feeling for me, to be part of an organization making such positive impacts. And why do I want to continue to be part of ABC of Springfield and AMBUCS? Because there is so much more to it. Amtrykes are an amazing part of our mission, but what we do to support our community, the multitude of charities within our community, and the amazing folks that are part of my chapter and chapters across the country make it something that without, there would be a void in my life.

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