If you were a boy born into the Scruggs family, chances are you joined the military.
Samuel Scruggs joined the Army in 1980. Of his six brothers, one other joined the Army, three were in the Navy, one joined the Air Force and one became a Marine.
Scruggs spent 13.5 of his 24 years in the Army deployed overseas. One of those deployments occurred 30 years ago when Scruggs traveled to Saudi Arabia as an S4 with the 101st Airborne Division.
“My job in logistics was to make sure my brigade, which was DISCOM, had everything they needed in terms of water, food, bullets, maintenance parts, clothes, tents and so forth.” Scruggs said. “Everything that you can put your hands on in a unit during wartime was my responsibility, to make sure my brigade had that.”
Scruggs’ assignment also required him to coordinate with the Division Support Command, or DISCOM, commander to establish a base for allied troops in the desert.
“We flew around the desert, basically, and the DISCOM commander was like, ‘that’s a good place for our headquarters, right there.’” Scruggs said. “So, we all looked right there, and there was nothing there but sand. There were no roads there.” Scruggs and the other officers on the helicopter at the time were in disbelief that a complete headquarters could be constructed out of nothing but a patch of sand. However, the DISCOM commander then mobilized the Army Corps of Engineers to connect that sandy spot to the main roads, not only constructing a road into the base and a road out, but also building berms to protect the division while at headquarters.
“That was the weirdest thing I ever saw,” Scruggs said. “But you know what, it actually happened. We ended up at that spot.”
Once the headquarters was set up, Scruggs got to work making sure that all the Soldiers in his brigade had all the supplies they needed. He helped execute contracts for laundry and water and ensured that they had fresh fruits and vegetables, or FF&Vs, MREs, and kerosene heaters for the cold desert nights. The “supply guys,” Scruggs said, arrived everywhere before infantrymen to ensure they would have the necessary supplies to complete their missions. They were also the last to leave deployment and head home.
Because of Scruggs’ important role as a “supply guy,” he took part in several missions that led helped prepare for the infantry to march into Iraq.
“We, 101st, we were in the fight and deeper than a lot of the infantry guys were as soon as the war started,” Scruggs said. “So we went into Iraq and set up a resupply base for the infantry to get their fuel and food and all that stuff…We went into an area that was supposed to be almost unoccupied by enemy forces, like a very slim amount of people. So, the area we went into wasn’t slim. It was a hot area, which means a lot of Iraqi soldiers were there. So we were in combat with these guys, deep into Iraq, waiting on the infantry.”
Scruggs also assisted in taking down enemy radar units before the air war began, disabling the enemy’s radar capability. Though his time in Iraq and Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm was short, the quarter of a century he spent in the Army left a lasting impression on him.
“I retired as a lieutenant colonel, and that was not by accident,” Scruggs said. “Part of it was because of the way I saw things. So if you are doing anything, any job, anywhere, I think the quality of your work is dependent in a large part on your attitude.”
Scruggs received a Bronze Star for his service in Desert Storm. After he retired from the Army, he taught ROTC and JROTC in area high schools and colleges. The lessons that he learned while in Army leadership have remained with him to this day.
“As a leader, you should lead,” Scruggs said. “That means doing the best you can do at everything you do, because the people that work for you are with you…The people in your unit, Soldiers or civilians, they’re going to take on your attitude, and that’s in any job, any company, anywhere in the world, it’s going to be the same.”