By Kayla Carter
After serving a total of 35 years, Roan Mountain resident Earline Haynes, 64, was forced to retire from the United States Army Reserve.
It was a forced retirement because she loved what she was doing, and did not want to stop.
“I wanted to keep going,” she said. “There was just something about being a nurse and taking care of our troops.”
In 2009 at 60 years old, Haynes put her time spent overseas in both Gulf conflicts with the Army behind her, but it was never to be forgotten.
Haynes had achieved the rank of master sergeant, and had never planned to go any higher.
“E8 is one above me, but I didn’t want to move up,” said Haynes, who is now a hospice nurse. “I wanted to work.”
When she moved to Tennessee in the ’70s from North Carolina to take care of a family member, she said jobs were limited in her field.
“There weren’t that many jobs,” she said. “I was a lab technician at the time.”
Haynes said joining the military was an option a friend told her about after she confided in him about her need to pay off a debt.
“He said, ‘Well, Miss Haynes you may want to talk to the Reserve. I’m in the Reserve. They pay you pretty good once a month for just a weekend,’” Haynes said. “Off I went to talk to them and I joined that day. It’s been my whole life.”
It came as such a shock to her family and friends, she said.
“No one could believe I joined the Army,” she said. “I joined with civilian-acquired skills. They gave you a rank for what you know.”
When Haynes first started out in 1974, she was stationed in Johnson City.
But it wasn’t until Operation Desert Storm that her boots hit the ground in Kuwait.
“It was something we were not prepared for,” she said. “We knew we were going to go to war to get rid of Saddam Hussein.”
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