Riverside superintendent returns from active duty
Riverside Superintendent Larry Nowlin not only serves the Riverside School District, he serves his country. For over three decades Nowlan has been a member of the Arkansas National Guards.
Nowlin has been with the National Guard for 32 years. He joined the National Guard in June of 1970 before graduating from college in August. Nowlin was promoted to the rank of Command Sgt. Major on August 28 of this year.
Nowlin began serving the Riverside School District four years ago and has been called to active duty twice over the last four years.
His first call came in 1999. Nowlin had two months of training before going to Kuwait where he served four months guarding missile sites. The peace-keeping mission in Kuwait has been going on for 20 years. He kept up with school business by Internet.
He was called again in 2001 to serve on a peace-keeping mission between Egypt and Israel. He left in October of 2001 and served for 10 months.
"Arkansas has every kind of troops serving in the National Guard including Intelligence. Uncle Sam needed 529 soldiers to go to Egypt and they were all found in one battalion serving in the Batesville/Searcy area, Nowlin said. "The troop was made up of men and women in various career fields. Dr. Sarniski of Hampton was our medical doctor. While he was gone, he was voted General Practitioner of the Year for the state of Arkansas. We had lawyers, business managers, mayors, dentists, and approximately 30-40 elected officials in our unit."
Nowlin was not surprised when they were called to serve following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
His duties included taking care of 100 men spread over the tip of Sinai to the Israel border. Nowlin was in charge of administrative supplies, food, mail, and making sure the men and women had every thing they needed. He was assisted by three platoon sergeants. The sites were anywhere from one and a half hours to four hours away from his headquarters. Nowlin said the roads were not as good as the ones Americans are accustomed to.
"We had to be careful and watch for the sand dunes and oncoming traffic that could very well be in our lane," Nowlin said.
Nowlin personally felt that the part of his unit's mission played a very important role in the war against terrorism.
"We went to Egypt on the peace keeping mission to relieve the troops that were scheduled to go to Egypt but were sent to Afghanistan on the Al Quida Mission," Nowlin said.
Nowlin was also proud of their unit for the way they responded and accomplished their training.
"We were ready in 90 days. It took some states six months to train," he said. "Our unit has a lot of experience and maturity when it comes to dealing with people."
Nowlin was pleased to serve under a Two Star General from Canada who served as task force commander over the mission. During his service, Nowlin met and ate at the table with Vice President Dick Chaney and the Ambassador of Egypt.
Nowlin takes pride in being from Arkansas and the men and women that serve from the southern states.
"The south has always been known for its troops and leadership in all wars. Large numbers of southerners are willing to go and defend our country. Strength is always good. The troops in Arkansas have been called up more than any other state," Nowlin said.
The 9/11 attack on the United States made people realize that "it can happen here."
After a year, Nowlin wants to remind Americans not to let their guard down.
"Keep on guard. Other terrorists' organizations will come in. They didn't think they could but now they do think it is possible. It is easier to get into the United States than other countries. We had to have Visa's and passports to travel from Egypt into Israel even though we were military," Nowlin said. "We need to be on guard but we should not allow terrorists to change our way of life. I advise people to go and enjoy their lives and our freedom."
Nowlin is happy to be back at Riverside. He does not regret the time he served even though it was difficult to miss his son's high school graduation.