36 Years of Honor: A Veteran's Story
When you spend an extended period of time with your coworkers, including those times during fast but furious springs, extended falls and endless winters, you tend to learn a little more about them. We consider it a pleasure that we’re able to get to know our employees outside Co-Alliance. Spouses, children, grandchildren, pets, hobbies, and passions; we find it quite fascinating to learn more about the people that make Co-Alliance the organization it is.
Dave Naylor works out of our Lynn Ag Center in Randolph County, Indiana. He is a true patriot, not only serving our country but also by constantly finding ways to help others in the area. When flooding rains came in September 2018, Dave was eager to jump in and help pack and stack sandbags in the community of Lynn.
Naylor is operating the loader.
This week while we're honoring veterans, we want to share with you Dave’s story with the Army Reserves.
Dave has 36 creditable years with the Army/ Army Reserve. His first association with the military was 1985 when he joined the Army Reserve at age 17. Can you imagine the weight of that decision at such an age? His desire to join was fueled by a family history of military service, patriotism and a strong sense of adventure. After about a year and a half of Army Reserve, he joined Active Duty. He served in the Army for three years then reentered Army Reserve.
Specialist Naylor (left) and Specialist Bock in Korea, 1988. They were on their way to Seoul to see the Olympics being held there that year. Even though he hasn’t seen Tony (Bock) in person since the first Gulf War in 1991, they have kept in touch.
For Dave, the idea of such a commitment to service was never a concern. In fact, he has committed 36 years to military, almost 31 years to his marriage, 31 years to Co-Alliance and has donated over 100 units of blood. When commits to something, he does so wholly.
We’ll admit, in working with Dave to tell his story, we wanted to gain clarification of just what the Army Reserves are. The Army Reserve’s mission, under Title 10 U.S. Code, is to provide trained, equipped, and ready Soldiers and cohesive units to meet the global requirements across the full spectrum of operations. The Army Reserve is a key element in the Army multi-component unit force, training with Active and National Guard units to ensure all three components work as a fully integrated team. So, we think it is safe to say that it is probably rare that Dave ever feels unprepared for his daily work at the co-op! He told us that most people may not realize that the Army Reserve is a great way to serve your country. For a relatively small amount of time investment, the benefits are substantial: Tricare, education monies, travel opportunities and acquiring job skills are a few.
When committing yourself to such service, there is bound to be challenges. Dave admits that his challenges are balancing family, civilian job and Army Reserve commitments. “I’m blessed to have a supporting family, and extended family within Lynn Ag, but even so I sometimes feel I’m trying to serve two Masters,” he told us.
In 2018 Co-Alliance employees and family members attended a voluntary CPR class on a Saturday.
Greg Pflum, Dave Naylor and Derek Nicholson (pictured together) are three employees who also serve as volunteer firemen in their communities. Dave attended the Saturday morning class after attending his National Guard PT first.
On the other hand, such an experience offers many rewards. We asked Dave what has been the greatest reward in serving the Army Reserves.
“Through the years, I’ve met many incredible people, seen some awesome places and have had many moments of personal satisfaction, whether it was from completing a physically difficult task or helping a soldier learn a new skill, that to narrow all that down to “Greatest” is thought-provoking,” he responded, then paused. “Honestly, I have to say it’s the sum total of all my experiences.”
He also relayed that a great lesson he’s learned through the Reserves is that teamwork towards a common goal is a powerful thing and with teamwork, most things can be overcome. As a cooperative owned by 10,000 farmer- members and operated by 850+ employees, we couldn’t agree more.
“I feel fortunate to work for a company that has supported me in my military career. We all know that in this line of work when it’s go time, it’s time to go! Through the years, some of my coworkers have had to take up the slack while I was away for duty. Even with that, I have never gotten any push back for having been gone, from coworkers or management," said Dave.
In 2016, our Lynn Ag Center was recognized by the Department of Defense as a Patriotic Employer because of Rusty Keller and Bill Davenport’s support of Dave Naylor’s service in the Indiana United States Army Reserve. They were thanked for their encouragement and support of Naylor’s service to our country.
Naylor wrote in his nomination of Keller:
“I work at an agri-business so our workload is very seasonal and weather dependent. On countless occasions, Rusty has had to work around my Battle Assembly schedule and Annual Training dates even when the planting and harvest season is in full swing, when working 12 to 14 hours per day, 6 or 7 days a week is the norm. Once, he even dispatched a pick-up truck to pick me up in the field and transport me into town so I could get a haircut for Reserves the next day. That meant parking a $200,000 machine so I wouldn’t get a counseling statement of a “U” (UNSAT) for my hair being out of regulations! Additionally, when I was mobilized back in 2004, some of the last words to me before leaving were, “If your family needs anything, have them call me.”; I know he meant that with sincerity.”
Dave retired on June 1, 2021 with 36 credible years. COVID-19 was a catalyst for leaving; training went virtual and soldiering by computer was the not way Dave wanted to serve his time in the Army.
"My last day was very bittersweet," he told us. "I am proud of my service. I never did anything that will lead to a monument or a building being named after me but I know I've made a difference here and there along the way. I would encourage any young person to seriously consider a tour of duty in any of the branches of service. Trust me, they would never forget it."
Co-Alliance is proud to have Dave as part of our team for more than three decades. We admire and respect his service, greatly. Thank you, Dave, for your service, sacrifice and work you do on behalf of every American. Your volunteerism and heart for service are second to none.