Life has a way of coming round full-circle and that was pretty evident to Sgt. Jacob Welch and Sgt. 1st Class James O’Dea, recruiters with the U.S. Army Seattle Recruiting Battalion, Seattle, Washington during a recent event.
Welch and O’Dea attended the Battalion’s annual training meeting on April 24, 2016, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Tacoma, Washington, and realized while swapping stories, they had met before.
As the conversation meandered around their military careers and Welch’s enlistment, it became clear to them when their paths crossed – O’Dea recruited Welch, then 19 years old, into the Army out of the Everett Recruiting Station, Everett, Washington.
Welch, who has been a recruiter with the Northgate Army Career Center, Seattle, for about six months, said he was very clear about being an Infantryman and thorough in researching all military branches to see what they offered.
“I had already talked to the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Navy but couldn’t get what I wanted,” said Welch. “I wanted Infantry. I walked into the Everett Recruiting Station and sat at a desk that was facing forward with an open chair.” he added.
That desk was O’Dea’s.
O’Dea said he remembered Welch’s determination to enlist in Infantry and appreciated his single-minded focus.
“He knew what he wanted,” said O’Dea. “When someone doesn’t know what they want, it’s a struggle because they’re probably less likely to commit,” he added.
Welch admitted he didn’t keep in touch with O’Dea after he enlisted but when he saw him at the training meeting, he recognized the face and tried to remember when and where he had met him.
O’Dea, an Army Reserve recruiter, said he had the same feeling of déjà vu like Welch. On the second day of the ATM, he approached Welch and asked him whether he had enlisted out of Everett. When Welch said yes, O’Dea said that’s when it hit him.
“We both came up to each other,” Welch recounted. “And then it clicked.”
According to O’Dea, it is easy for a Reserve recruiter to run into another Reserve soldier because they are within the local community, but it is not that easy or frequent in the active duty component of any branch of the military.
O’Dea said he was proud to know someone who he recruited, become a recruiter himself. Welch said he appreciated O’Dea’s advice and assurance that the Battalion was a great place to be stationed.
“The Army is a small, small world!” said Welch. “There is a community feeling that we’re part of something bigger and better than ourselves,” he added.