Cincinnatus man finds purpose in National Guard

Shane Baker

Meet Shane Baker: The 18-year-old Cincinnatus native enlisted in the New York National Guard in February. He recently completed Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Lee, Virginia.

How was your experience at Fort Lee?

My experience there was pretty decent. My AIT training consisted of 9 weeks of actual schoolhouse training, half the time in the classroom, and half the time in the shop actually working on vehicles. It consisted of a lot of troubleshooting and “parts’ numbers,” because if you don’t find the parts’ numbers, you can’t order the part, because they don’t keep the parts in stock at every place. We learned how to install and remove parts. There were three days of actual field training, but mostly we did maintenance. Basic training started at 5 o’clock in the morning, which means we were up at 4 a.m. getting ready for the day.

How did you get along with the other cadets?

It was very friendly at the start, but as time went on we started to get angry with each other, because we’d keep messing up and keep having to do too many pushups. It was the same people over and over again so we kind of formed groups of good people and not so good people. It was a very family-like atmosphere.

When did you decide to join the National Guard?

Originally, I wanted to enlist my junior year, but because of personal reasons I wasn’t able to enlist. This past November, I got back in touch with Sgt. Carl Bush and we decided to pull the trigger on it. I enlisted in February of this year and left in March for my training.

Do you plan to attend a college or university?

College is my next step, and I plan to continue with the Guard while helping my parents back home. I’m looking at Tompkins Cortland Community College and SUNY Cortland to major in computer engineering and minor in business. My plan is to go back to school in the spring.

What drew you to computer engineering?

I’ve always enjoyed the computer side of things. I’ve always helped my own family with computers. My mom’s side of the family is very computer-savvy and I happened to get that from them.

Why did you decide to choose mechanics?

Since I do that on the civilian side, I decided to do something completely different, so I chose mechanics when I went to the military.

Do you think about the possibility of deployment?

There is always that chance I will be enlisted. My unit deploys every four years or so and they just got back from deployment. In about 4 years, I could be sent anywhere in the world, but I’m looking forward to it.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’m looking to stay in the Northeast but not necessarily New York. I’m thinking either Pennsylvania or New Hampshire.

Read more from the New York National Guard:

Cortland grads prepare for National Guard experience

Cortland native says military experience taught him to be a better person