Story last updated at 6/20/2012 - 2:02 pm
Ever wondered about someone you pass on the sidewalk, see in the grocery store, or heard mentioned in stories? This is our attempt to track those people down, and grill them, lightly.
Kevin McIver does not mess around. He sat on the edge of a couch and spoke directly and factually about his professional life. He did not appear to be a man prone to bitterness, stewing or self-pity. He just tells it like it is, and walks the walk to back it up.
McIver, who is now 50 years old, knew his whole young adult life, growing up in southeast Missouri and playing with GI Joes, that he wanted to serve in the United States military.
"I used to go to the recruiting office so often they would take off and let me run the office," McIver said, of the days before he turned 17. The recruitment officers told him never to answer the phone, but one day it kept ringing and ringing. McIver answered. It was the commander. The recruitment officers were reprimanded.
Later on, McIver's house caught on fire, and one of the recruitment officers who had been reprimanded by the commander for letting McIver man the office was among the fire crew to respond to the flames.
When McIver was finally eligible to sign up, (at 17 years old with parental permission), his mother's only stipulation was that he did not join the Marines. When McIver chose the Army's Special Operations unit, his mother told him, "I should have let you joined the Marines."
After his basic training, McIver spent time serving in Italy and Egypt and studied Spanish at a military language institute in California. Then he decided to get a college degree.
"I was out [of the military] long enough just to get into college, get it done and get out," he said. He majored in Communications at Austin Peay University in Tenn. In college he was in the ROTC and joined the Army National Guard. He loved writing, and wrote for the school paper, where he had the opportunity to photograph June Carter Cash and the Oak Ridge Boys.
After college, back in the military, McIver was stationed at Fort Benning, the Army post in Georgia, where he wrote the outdoor column for the Fort's paper The Bayonet. After three years in Germany, McIver returned to Fort Benning and was assigned to work as a speech writer. He wasn't into it, at first, but they Army told him they would send him wherever he wanted to go after his speech writing commitment.
"I wrote 350 speeches in one year," he said. "Some were five-minute grip and grins, some were 26 pages [about] new weapons and equipment." His choice of deployment following the speech writing? The hottest spot, he said. He wanted to go where he would be most needed, and he chose Korea.
After two years in Korea and some training in public affairs in Maryland, again, McIver wanted to work in the most difficult place he could be stationed. He chose the School of Americas, a facility where foreign police are instructed in American tactics and training. The day he started there was a protest of 7,000 people against the SOA. Two years later, on the day he left that job, there was a protest of 15,000 people. While working at the SOA, McIver said, "People would chain themselves to trees, throw blood at the building."
His last position with the Army was as the advisor to the Florida Army National Guard in Orlando, where he worked for three years, before retiring when he was 39.
"I was like, 'This is cool man,'" he said. "But I still had to work, I had bills to pay."
There was a need for public affairs professionals with the federal government, and McIver worked in that capacity in Alabama, Wash. DC, California, Fairbanks and then West Virginia, where a public affairs officer position had opened at a Veterans Affairs Medical Facility.
"I hadn't done medicine," McIver said. "I'd done military, aviation, maritime, fire information, natural resources and wildlife, but I hadn't done medical."
In West Virginia he met his partner, Amy, who managed the women's veterans program and the women's veteran clinic.
After a year in West Virginia, McIver accepted a position as the regional director of Public Affairs at the Forest Service in Juneau. He and Amy arrived in Juneau on May 4, 2011.
"The Forest Service has a tough mission in [this] state, between fire, timber and recreation and - gosh, everything else," said McIver.
McIver loves fishing, hiking, hunting and used to enjoy skiing, but he's due for his fourth knee surgery soon, so that sport is out of his lineup.
Though he'd love to move to New Orleans, he thinks he'll inevitably return to D.C.
"What's not to like? You can have muffulettas in the French Quarter," McIver said. "... Once you get up so high your next assignments are in D.C."
Though he readily admits he would much prefer "To be working off a lap top on the French Riviera."
"I've done everything I want to," said McIver. "Hell yeah. I played football in high school, I have a son, I've been all over the world a couple of times. I owned, managed and instructed a martial arts school, I'm one of nine directors in the Forest Service, I commanded an infantry unit. Hell yeah."
Props to a real MacGyver, McIver.