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Todd Raley Story

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This is veteran Todd Raley's story written by Zachary Kaiser, student reporter for the War: Through Their Eyes, Vol. 3, Warriors & Students multimedia project.

Major: Social Work, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Military Rank: Sergeant First Class (E7) Third Armored Division Germany, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, 84th Training Division Army Reserves, 98th Division, 108th Division Army Reserves
Tours: The Gulf War, 1990-1991; The Iraq War, 2004-2005

The Old is New

by Zachary Kaiser
Student Reporter

In Swart Hall at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Todd Raley is an anachronism. After more than 23 years in the Army, this 44-year-old freshman finds himself bobbing and weaving among students half his age whose only experience with war is what they’ve watched in movies.

They might hear his black memorial bracelet tapping gently on his desk, but they don’t know he wears it as a memorial for a fallen soldier and friend. They don’t know where he has been or the scars he’s acquired while serving his country.

For all they know, he is just another weathered man who got sick of some blue-collar job and decided to try college.

In the Beginning

The son of a Navy veteran, Raley, at 18, signed a four-year contract to serve his country in 1987 before graduating from Columbus High School in Columbus, Wis. His army life began in Fort Sill, Okla., training in World War II-style steel helmets in wicked heat. In 13 weeks, he learned basic soldier skills such as shooting, moving as a team and operating artillery.

After basic training, Raley boarded a charter plane heading straight for a tense and divided Germany. From the end of basic training in 1987 to 1989, Raley spent his days waiting for the looming Russian invasion under the shadow of the Berlin wall. He looked at the boarded windows and barbed wire on the other side of the wall and knew he was serving a higher purpose.

To read the entire story, please download this PDF


In this video, Todd Raley shares his experiences in the Gulf Wars and his interactions with Iraqi citizens. 


In this audio podcast, Todd Raley describes how he is still drawn to Army service. 


In this audio podcast, Raley discusses his experience as a young soldier in Germany during the tension of the Cold War. 


In this audio podcast, Raley describes what it was like firing artillery in the Gulf War. 


Video and podcasts produced by student reporter Zachary Kaiser. 

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