Twelve years after Bryan Carleton left the University of Southern Maine to enlist in the Army — serving twice in Iraq — he is both a new graduate and a newly commissioned officer.
On May 11, Carleton completed his ROTC training and earned his commission as a second lieutenant in the Army, scoring among the top 10 percent of Army cadets nationwide, said Command Sgt. Major Joe LaPlante of USM’s Army ROTC program.
On May 12, he was awarded his bachelor’s degree in business management. And on May 23rd, he arrived in Fort Benning, Georgia for his continued Army training.
“It’s been pretty quick, faster than most,” said Carleton. The Rockland, Maine native is now 32 years old, married and working towards becoming an Army Ranger.
He said he returned to the Army because he likes the retirement benefits and he felt needed.
It was the sense of need that led him to enlist before. After graduating from Rockland High School in Spring 2005, he began at USM the following fall. It was a rough year for US military.
“It was that year we hit 3,000 US casualties in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,” Carleton said. “A local newspaper published all of their names and pictures and I knew I needed to go.”
He enlisted in August 2006. Working in military intelligence, he deployed the first time 18 months later in March 2008. A second deployment sent him to Iraq in November 2009 (He is the soldier on the left in the photo from Iraq). When he returned home a year later, he decided to leave the Army.
He came home to Maine and started an online retail electronics company. In 2015, he re-enrolled at USM and began his ROTC training.
“I thought I was done (with the Army) for sure,” he said.
But the world is changing, and he believes he can fill a need.
“We need people,” he said.