Military Appreciation Month - Employee Spotlight: Dennis Godber

We continue to honor various team members across our organization throughout Military Appreciation Month. Meet Dennis Godber, Network and Systems Security Analyst Lead for Tampa Electric. Take a look as Dennis reflects on how his experiences in the United States Army shaped his life and career.

Military Appreciation Dennis

In general, describe your daily role/responsibility while in the military.  

While at Ft. Bragg, our mission was an 18-hour deployment to anywhere in the world, so we constantly trained for that. As part of the 18th Airborne Corp, we provided communications back to the Corp for any unit that deployed. It was a regular thing to be called at 3:00 in the morning for an alert response drill where we had to be in and ready to move out with all our gear in hand for deployment within a specified time limit. 

In Germany, our mission was to supply the immediate response and support of Germany to a Russian (or any other) confrontation in Europe until reinforcements could get there. We trained all over Germany to be familiar with its geography and weather. 

In Fort Hood, our mission was to serve as the reinforcement force to anywhere in the world and support the Armored units of III Corp.  

What are some of the things you remember about adapting to military life?

Being on duty 24/7/365 and accepting that there is always something going on in the world was a big adjustment. Also, I had to realize not to try to understand the duties – just accept them and do them. For example, raking dirt or climbing trees with a rake to knock leaves out because it was unacceptable that leaves fell after you finished raking. 

I always wanted to serve my country from an early age. My dad was in the Air Force, and I wanted to be like him.

I told my wife at the time that I was enlisting. After she told her dad, he said I would never be home as a ranger, so we had some serious conversations and compromised to be airborne paratrooper. Ironically, I was gone more as an airborne paratrooper than I would have been as a ranger!

Can you describe a funny moment from boot camp?

When you first get to boot camp, you spend time in temporary barracks until you have all your gear, complete your paperwork and go through numerous orientations and experience. At some point, everyone is wearing battle dress uniforms (BDUs), black combat boots and sporting a fashionable shaved head. Out of old habit, there are a lot of guys walking around flicking long hair back that is no longer there.

The staff would come up and say things like, “hey, you in the BDUs,” or, “you in the black boots,” or, “you with the shaved head,” and everyone would look up thinking they are talking about them. We then realized we were all wearing the same thing, then looked around at each other acting like we didn’t look up!

Describe a moment you remember most about your deployment.

When my Battalion (32nd Signal) was getting ready to deploy to Desert Shield/Desert Storm and relieve our sister Battalion (16th Signal), they found an explosive device that could be remotely detonated inside the military hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. At that point, our unit’s role changed to security for the various U.S. facilities in Germany. This included supply depots, military housing, hospitals, post exchange, etc. We were literally in the middle of painting our vehicle with desert camouflage, so we ended up with half our vehicles tan/sand camo and the other half green/wooded camo.

Coming home was such a relief as our security role was 16 hours a day, 7 days a week and very intense and stressful because of the real threat.

What unique experiences did you encounter during your service?

I was an airborne paratrooper at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and got to jump out of a C-5 Galaxy airplane.

I was soldier of the year for my unit in Germany and attended a recognition ceremony in Berlin. I was able to go to East Berlin in the early stages of it “coming down.”

I was also runner up for Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year for III Corp and attended a conference in Washington, D.C. where I met several generals, senators, representatives and the secretary of defense.

How did military service change you?

Being in the military really highlighted my ability to lead and to lead in adverse conditions. It reinforced my need to push myself. When I got out, I had to substitute that desire to push myself by participating in adventure sports and being an ultradistance athlete. I have completed numerous multiday adventure races – even completing a 1,200K (768-mile) bike ride in France from Paris to Brest on the coast and then back to Paris.

The military really amplified a can-do work ethic. The airborne mantra of “All the Way” really stuck to me when I started working at TECO as I approach every task I perform with this spirit. My leadership skills are used daily, and I bring the family bond element of the military to my work, as demonstrated by the collaboration and support of each other within the team. Because of this, Storm Riding feels like another part of my job versus a burden.

Is there anything you wish civilians understood about military service?

Military service is an experience where you start off as patriotic and want to serve your country and defend our freedoms, knowing that it potentially means making the ultimate sacrifice. Once in the military, it expands because you bond with your fellow cohorts and become an extended family – one that you are ready to go shoulder-to-shoulder with in defense of our freedom. The phrase, “adapt, improvise and overcome” becomes ingrained in you and you don’t fret minimalism or being without something because you know you can persevere and come out better from the hardships, trials and tribulations.