Consistent with the direction of so many area youth, local resident Jake Vogel chose the path to an education by attending college shortly after his graduation from Jefferson City High School in 2001.
But a growing desire to serve his nation grew to the extent that he made the decision to join the Army after graduating from St. Louis University with a business degree in 2005.
Soon on his way to Fort Benning, Ga., Vogel completed 16 weeks of "One Stop Unit Training" (OSUT) - where recruits finish both their basic and advanced training at the same location.
Enlisting in the infantry field with an interest in someday becoming an Army Ranger, Vogel notes the training consisted of "lots of patrols, combat medical training and weapons familiarization."
His future, however, would provide few breaks in training as he attended Airborne School and received his "jump wings" after completing five parachute jumps.
"That is where the fun began," Vogel quipped.
Remaining at Fort Benning, he attended the Ranger Indoctrination Program and spent a month engaged in demanding activities such as rucksack marches, security patrols and land navigation courses.
"Much of this course was used in determining if an individual has what it takes to be an Army Ranger," he said.
After successful completion, Vogel received the "Ranger Scroll" - the first step in becoming recognized as a full-fledged Ranger.
The initial round of training finished, he was transferred to his first duty assignment with the 1st Ranger Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia.
Integrating into the roll of an assistant gunner in a weapons squad, Vogel received the opportunity to employ his training when deployed to Afghanistan in early 2007. Of the 100-day deployment, he notes, "We would go after target sets such as insurgents and those with ties to terrorist organizations."
Returning to Georgia, he began Ranger School - a 60-day training structured in three phases covering a range of activities from mountain and swamp training to learning to serve in leadership positions.
Finishing the difficult training and becoming a Ranger, he soon experienced his second deployment - this time to a military base in Baghdad where he served as a vehicle commander.
The deployment wrapped up in mid-2008, at which time he went on to complete a five-week sniper training course. However, his services were again called upon for a third deployment, this time to Mosul, Iraq.
"We were part of sniper team that provided security coverage for an assault force," Vogel said. "As a sniper, people will always ask what's your longest shot, but you're usually within 150 meters of the team you support."
He returned to Georgia in early 2009, but the persistent call to service reared its head once again when he deployed for a fourth time just a few weeks later.
Sent to Afghanistan, Vogel stated, "We were all over the place this time and worked out of several bases." Similar to his second deployment, the primary purpose of the unit was to gather intelligence on potential threats, and to track and locate insurgents.
With the deployment completed in December 2009, he returned to Georgia and began training snipers until his discharge the following August.
"I always envisioned getting into the family business to put my degree to work," Vogel said, regarding his decision to leave the Army.
Now a sales and marketing representative with Jefferson City Coca-Cola Bottling Association, Vogel notes that four years as an Army Ranger crowned by a strenuous deployment schedule helped him develop patience and unlocked in him a greater appreciation of the American lifestyle.
"Regardless of how bad things may seem here at times, you quickly learn that we have it much better than many people overseas."
And adding with a confidence born of experience: "After you've been through multiple deployments and endured the associated hardships - to include the loss of those you have served with - you learn to exercise patience and not get overly excited in a stressful situation."
Jeremy P. Amick is the public affairs officer for the Silver Star Families of America.