With six family members currently enlisted – a father and five adult children – Shanle might become a familiar name in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
As her family looked on, the fifth and final Shanle child, Antonia Marie, took her oath of enlistment Tuesday (Jan. 21) at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Milwaukee.
“Congratulations – you are now a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard,” said Maj. Craig Jansen of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion after administering the oath. “Now, there are no more Shanles to enlist?”
Antonia’s father, Staff Sgt. Ray Shanle, is a Wisconsin Army National Guard recruiter based in Green Bay. But to hear Antonia’s mother Lorianne tell the story, the real family recruiter is her father, retired command sergeant major Lawrence Murray, who completed 30 years in the Wisconsin Army National Guard as the senior enlisted member of the 32nd Brigade.
“Let me tell you a story,” Murray – a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor – said in a conspiratorial voice. “I enlisted in early March, 1952 – I had no choice in the matter. My dad says, ‘Get in the car – we’re going for a ride.’ He drove to the livestock pavilion we had in Waukesha, which was also our National Guard armory. There we met one of my uncles, who was in the 32nd Division in World War II, and another uncle who had two boys the same age as me, so there was three of us there.”
Murray’s uncle Les had served with the 32nd in the South Pacific during World War II, and instructed the three boys that they were enlisting.
“So we were marched inside the armory and we enlisted,” Murray recalled with a laugh.
Staff Sgt. Shanle served for six years in the Marine Corps in the 1980s. About two decades later, his oldest son Raymond looked into also joining the Marine Corps.
“I grew up on a dairy farm, and I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself,” Raymond – a sergeant in Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment – explained. “I wanted a challenge and the reward out of that. I initially went to the Marine Corps recruiting office and talked to them and they said I could refuel jets, and I thought that was okay.”
But Raymond’s grandfather did not think that was okay.
“That was the only time I’ve seen him visibly upset,” Raymond recalled. “He said, ‘You get your butt down to the National Guard office.’ So I did and had a sweet little deal lined up for me.”
Raymond began his military service as a combat engineer, and recently joined the Green Bay-based infantry unit.
“I love it,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Shanle said the National Guard recruiters who signed up Raymond were pretty good at their job.
“They came to our farm, and my wife and I signed the papers for [Raymond] at our kitchen table. And after we signed, they said, ‘So, Ray, when are you getting back in?’ I said I was too old and too fat to get back in, and they showed me otherwise.”
Staff Sgt. Shanle found himself enlisting nearly a month after his son – after a 20-year break in service.
“I swore in after him to support my son in his decision, and we were obviously heavy in Iraq at that time,” Shanle said. “Maturity and leadership – if I could help, that’s why I did it.”
Natasha Shanle, a sergeant with the 32nd Military Police Company in Milwaukee, was motivated to enlist after Raymond joined.
“He was my role model at the time, and I thought if he can do it, it must be pretty cool,” she said. “My grandfather talked about it a lot – I thought it was a real responsible thing to do. Why not serve your country?”
Natasha got her opportunity to serve her country, along with her father and older brother. She served with the 32nd MP Company in Iraq during a 2009-10 deployment, while Raymond deployed with the 951st Engineer Company (Sapper) to Afghanistan in 2010-11. Staff Sgt. Shanle deployed to Iraq with Troop E, 105th Cavalry in 2007-08, and also served as a military contractor in Baghdad from 2010-2012.
Caleb Shanle, a specialist, is the second of three Shanle men assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry. He has been a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard for nearly two years.
“Growing up I saw my father, brother and my sister all deployed at roughly the same time – that kind of gave me the kick-start.”
Caleb wants to make a career of the military, and is looking to find an Active Guard and Reserve job in the 32nd Brigade. He also plans to stay infantry.
“Being in the same company with my brother and then my other brother when he gets back from training, it will be quite the thrill,” Caleb said.
Tyler Shanle, a private first class, enlisted in December and heads to basic training in a few weeks.
“I had a very good job in the private sector and I didn’t feel obligated to join,” Tyler explained. “But seeing my whole family doing it and the benefits made me want to join.”
Antonia said she felt no pressure or obligation to enlist – in fact, her parents indicated that they might have preferred she enlist a little later.
“I probably tried to dissuade her the most,” Staff Sgt. Shanle said. “Her mom definitely made her wait until she was 18.”
“We all had discussions about her at the dining room table when she wasn’t home [about] when she could or couldn’t go in, so this came a little faster than I thought,” Lorianne admitted. “But it’s her decision, and she’s got a good gig going.”
“It’s always been there and it opens up so many opportunities in life, especially with the job I chose, linguist,” Antonia said. “My mom used to be in the FBI at one point and that always intrigued me. I knew this job could open up doors to that kind of thing.”
After graduating high school later this spring, Antonia will head to basic training and then to language training before joining the 32nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion as a member of its military intelligence company.
“They all [enlisted] on their own for their own reasons, and I believe for the right reasons – for their reasons, not anybody else’s,” Staff Sgt. Shanle said of his children. “What’s it like? It’s phenomenal.”
“I’m proud of them,” he said. “I’m really proud of them.”