- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SPRING VALLEY, Ill. (AP) - Mark Mautino always aspired to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and was just days out of high school when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. It was a natural fit and he was honored to serve.

But after his discharge, Mautino decided he missed the camaraderie of military life and decided to part-time it as a Navy reservist. He now is senior chief petty officer, near the top in the non-enlisted chain of command, and has been repeatedly deployed during the ongoing War on Terror.

And if that weren’t enough, the 44-year-old also is the boss of the family business - he took over Mautino Distributing when his father Tony retired - and a father of two.

“It is a struggle, because we’re in a constant state of war and you’re always preparing to war, and we don’t go to the good places in the world,” Mautino said. “I think people have this impression it (being a reservist) two weeks a year and a weekend a month, but it’s not that way anymore. It’s far more demanding than it used to be.”

Many residents of the Illinois Valley hold second jobs or moonlight to earn extra cash; but a few local residents have more novel side avocations they pursue not because of the money but for gratification they may not get from their day jobs.

For Mautino, he manages a small company (about two dozen full- and part-time workers) and finds time to be a Navy reservist because he’s proud of his country, end of story.

“And if they called me today, I would be on the plane today,” Mautino said. “And my wife would be 100 percent behind me.”

Indeed, Mautino is quick to say wife Heather is the unsung hero in his life. He was deployed into the Persian Gulf as a patrol boat captain who oversaw 200 missions while his daughters were small. He missed some of his children’s formative years and left Heather to manage their home along; but she bore his absences and the swollen parental duties with heroic patience.

“My wife has been great about it. I was in the Persian Gulf half my kids’ early lives, so she worked the home front.”

The military is always looking for good people who love their country, and one now-retired reservist said it’s a worthwhile investment of time.

Judge R. James Lannon, now 81, of La Salle served in ROTC in college and received his commission just as the Korean War was winding down. With his services not needed in a war zone, he was later stationed at the Bureau County Reserve Center in Princeton. By stayed in the U.S. Army reserves for 17 years and retired as a captain.

“It wasn’t challenging,” Lannon said of juggling his law career with service to his country. “I had a great time and I met an awful lot of good people.”

At that time, reserve duty was limited to two weeks a year and one weekend a month, enabling Lannon to schedule his law practice (he became a judge years later in 2011) around the handful of yearly dates.

“We have to have an Army ready in the even something bad happens,” Lannon said, urging others to consider military service on a part-time basis. “I loved it and I would recommend it to anymore.”


-Source: LaSalle News-Tribune, https://bit.ly/1MJtua5

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