Veteran Scott Viens enjoyed the ‘super cool secret’ missions

“In hindsight, I probably should have chosen a job that I could have done when I got back home, but I was young and I just wanted to ride around in tanks, shoot things and blow things up,” said Scott Viens. “You don’t think about that when you are young.”

Mr. Viens was born in Connecticut in 1964 and moved to Okeechobee when he was in ninth grade. He graduated from Okeechobee High School in 1982 and was the first of his group of about 20 friends, “the military pack,” to join the army.

His mother was dead set against it, he said, because his grandfather had been killed at Normandy, but he didn’t tell her the recruiter was coming and when he showed up, he explained what they were offering, and she couldn’t refuse. Mr. Viens had scored pretty well on the tests, he said, and they offered him two years in Germany, his choice of just about any job he wanted, $25,000 for college and a signing bonus. In addition, he would have joined the following year anyway, so his mother finally gave in and signed so he could join even though he was only 17 years old.

Because of his test scores and the fact that he brought two friends with him, he went in one rank higher than he would have. He went to Germany immediately following his “one-station” unit training in Fort Knox. He was trained as a reconnaissance scout. He explained, they were considered part of the tank community but they did the reconnaissance for the tanks. They traveled 20 miles ahead of the lead unit. He joked, “We used to tease them that we were just there to find their sleeping places and to make sure no one attacked them while they slept.” He liked being out in front of everyone and especially enjoyed doing what he called some “super cool secret” missions.

One of his favorite memories was the transition from the old vehicles to the new Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which he said were named after Gen. Omar Bradley. He said when they had motorcycles or dune buggies, they carried them inside and when they were ready to use them, they dropped a hatch on the back and just drove them out. They were much quieter than a tank, he explained.

When he left Germany, he went to Texas for three years. He had applied for ROTC training or recruiting but was hoping to get ROTC training. He ended up with recruiting, though. He said it wasn’t bad. He had four months of training, which was basically teaching him how to be a salesman. He was a recruiter in a mall for three years, and he said it was not a bad duty, but the only day off you ever got was Christmas.

After that, he was sent to Fort Riley in Kansas where he was back to recon scouting and, soon after, he was sent to Iraq for Desert Storm. He said he was there for six months, but the conflict lasted only four days.

When he left the U.S. to head to Iraq, his wife was eight months pregnant, and she gave birth to their son Zack on the day of the cease-fire, but it took a month for them to find him to tell him the baby had arrived. He didn’t get to see the baby until he was 5 months old, and that helped Scott make the decision to end his career in the Army, although he did remain in the reserves until retiring after 25 years in the service. The birth of baby Zack and the fact that Mr. Viens was deployed during his birth was featured on the front page of the Okeechobee News in February 1992.

When he and his family returned to Okeechobee, he went to college to become a teacher and taught elementary school for 13 years. He was a dean for three years and is now a behavioral interventionalist for all 10 Okeechobee schools. He explained, he “puts out the fires.” He helps anywhere he can with children with behavior issues.

He is married to Tammy, who works as a surgery scheduler at Raulerson Memorial Hospital, and has three children — Brianne, his oldest; Zack, the baby who was born while he was deployed and who is now in dental school; and Jason, who is on active duty in the Air Force and is an interpreter of Middle Eastern languages. He has two stepchildren — Chad and Brenda Ellerbee, 11 grandchildren and one on the way.

In his spare time, he has worked as an auxiliary sheriff’s deputy for the last nine years. He is a member of a band in which he sings. They play classic rock, he says, mostly over on the coast. He is a Mason. He said he became a Mason because they promote making you a better man. He is the county trainer for youth mental health first aid — suicide prevention, and finally, his family has Disney World passes.

“So,” he laughed, “you don’t see us around on the weekends very much.”

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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