Meet Robinson’s Veterans

Eight of Robinson’s teachers reflect on their time in the military and how it impacted their lives.

Morgan Brazier, Lindsey Chadwick, Hanna Malone, Amelia Foster, Editor-in-chief, staff writer, staff writer, A&E and Multimedia editor

Robinson has many teachers who are military veterans. In honor of Veteran’s Day, staffers sat down with some of our veterans to learn more about their military experience.

Photo Hanna Malone
Dusold proudly holds a photograph of himself in the Navy (left), and a photo with two of his friends in his Air Force platoon (right).

Thomas Dusold

Do you come from a military family?

Yes, actually, my dad was in the Air Force for 23 years.

What motivated you to join the military?

I wanted to get out of Tampa. I had listened to my dad’s stories and grown up around the base. Seeing the life that the military offered, and the opportunity to travel really motivated me. I knew, as a poor Tampa kid, I was never gonna see those things or do those things if I didn’t take the chance then. I wasn’t interested in going to college at the time, I wanted to get out and do stuff and see the world, and the military seemed like the perfect way to do it.

How long did you serve?

I served a total of 13 years before I was medically retired.

What branch were you in?

I did 3 years in the Marine Corps, and 10 years in the Air Force.

Why did you decide to start off in the Marines?

Well, they were the hardest, toughest service; I liked the challenge of it.

What made you decide to switch from the Marines to Air Force?

Cleaning out a dumpster. Yeah we were at Camp Landing, in Central Florida, for a drill weekend. Towards the end of our stay, the Army Post Martial told us that all of the garbage we had been throwing in the dumpster all weekend needed to be bagged so that the raccoons wouldn’t get it. Being one of the lowest ranking people there, I had to jump into the dumpster with hot, gross garbage.

When I got home that evening, I called my brother on the phone, who was just an hour up the road in Valdosta, GA, where he was in the Air Force. Then I compared his weekend of going out and partying, hanging out, and just having a good time to my weekend putting hot dumpster trash into bags.

I was at the Air Force recruiter’s office the very next day.

Did you ever travel overseas?

I landed in Spain for a heartbeat. We over-nighted in Sicily, Italy. Then we were in Turkey and Kuwait.

What was the best and worst “military” food you were served?

The best military food was in Kuwait. Every Thursday was steak night, all you can eat steak. It was so good. Plus they had the best ice cream, I think it came from Belgium. The ice cream was fantastic. So yeah, that was probably the best food I was served

The worst? Well, back in the old days, they used to have MREs, the field rations that you get. They had a dehydrated pork patty and a dehydrated beef patty. I don’t care how bad you think it was, it was worse. If you’ve ever had meat in your freezer and forgot it was there, and then you see what it looks like when it comes out and it finally thawed; it’s not identifiable anymore. Yeah, that’s what the MRE patties looked and tasted like.

I remember working supply in the Marines, where we would hand out the MREs to everybody. The con-platoon that was with us were kind of jerks, like they tried to get out of everything, so we got a few cases of MREs and picked out all the beef and pork patties and put them all in 2 cases of nothing but that specific kind.

How has the military impacted your life?

I am who I am today because of it. The discipline I have, and the ability I have to work with other people was shaped by my time in the military. A lot of my skills, the stuff I know how to do, come from it. Not just “military” stuff, but radar work, cooking, etiquette, analyzing stuff, and everything. Getting to fly around in helicopters and see the world. All of those experiences have made me who I am, and I love sharing that. When I talk to my students about my time serving, I want them to have those experiences too.

You don’t have to follow one set path in life. There’s a whole world, and all of this stuff for you to do, and see, and be, and you should go out and do that. I think the military gave me that. It’s a really cool way of life.

Plus, you know, the medical benefits ain’t that bad. The medical isn’t bad and the retirement isn’t bad. It’s just a great experience overall.


Jeff Kaloostian

How long were you in the military for?

I was in the Air Force for 28 years.

Why did you join the Air Force?

I joined to be a pilot. Because my dad was a WWII pilot and I wanted to be a pilot. I was actually gonna be an oceanographer first because I love scuba diving while I was in high school and wanted to be a Jacques Custo which was a big thing back then and then when I got to Florida State I saw the ROTC guys and called dad and said ‘Hey dad what do you think about pilot” and he goes “I enjoyed it” so I said “yea I think ill give it a try” and I loved it, I loved ROTC and went on from there.

Did you travel overseas during your time in the air force?

We did, we lived in Germany twice so a total of six years there and then I flew a number of times over the European middle east area and actually while I was up at North Dakota in charge of the PC135s and Grand 4 which we have out here at Mac Dill, we were over in the middle east three days after 9/11 happened already going to war, so that was pretty quick.

How would you say that being in the Military impacted your life?

Had a heck of a lot of fun. Traveling the world, I saw a lot met a lot of neat people. Came to the conclusion that a lot on an individual basis there’s a lot of nice people all around the world, you tend to stereotype people cause of what you see on T.V. but there on your own you meet them individually they are usually nice people. That’s probably the biggest impact actually. And just enjoyed being comfortable travelling you know made you kind of be not too leery about strangers and things like that you just gotta be aware of your surroundings. But had a heck of a nice time that was all from, I went in in May of ’76 and I got out in June of 2004 so 28 years.

How did you become a teacher here after that?

Took a year off started looking for jobs and decided I didn’t want to go back, because I retired as a full Colonel and usually there’s certain jobs you don’t do and certain jobs you do if you’re gonna go back into the military and I decided I didn’t want to put a suit back on and go work at a cubical at central command where I retired from so I saw an ad for this job in the base newspaper and talked to Mrs avakia who was our principal at the time and she said they had just hired somebody and then I’m down in miami  visiting my mom a couple weeks later and she calls me up and says ‘hey we’d like to talk to you about the job” and I came back and it turns out the other guy who they just hired quit cause he didn’t enjoy the freshmen at the age of 65 and so they hired me. That was 2005 I began here I was 51 so, it’s been a while. But I enjoy it I mean the first year i just power-pointed the kids to death because I didn’t know what I was doing and then as I got used to playing with the toys in here and everything like that we had more fun…it’s a lot of fun its a busy program to keep


Steven Smith

How long were you in the military for?

Nine years in the Ohio army national guard.

What motivated you to join?

Well I wanted to serve my country A) because my father was in the military and then B) They paid for my college so that definitely helped me out.

Did you travel overseas?

Yes actually I went to Jamaica for two weeks and then I went to Honduras for two weeks.

Did you come from a military family?

My father was in the military he was in the Navy, he was in the Vietnam war and then my grandfather, both my grandfathers were in World War II.

How would you say that being in the military impacted your life?

It was a great experience I met a lot of interesting people got to see some interesting places, learned a lot about myself and really enjoyed it and it was a real sense of pride serving our country.

Photo Hanna Malone
Pelamati stands with a miniature toy soldier that she got from a restaurant in St. Pete. The tiny figurine is meant to be a left somewhere in your home or workplace as a reminder of the people who are serving overseas. ” I don’t have a picture of me in uniform, but I did bring this little soldier guy. Is it okay if I take a picture with him?”

Maureen Pelamati

Do you come from a military family?

My dad was in the Army at the end of World War II, though he wasn’t in service anymore by the the time I was born. A few of my brothers were also in the military.

What branch were you in?

I was in the Army reserves, and then I was put on active duty during the first Gulf War in the 90s.

Why did you choose that particular branch?

During my senior year of high school, a recruiter called me and offered me money to go to college if I joined to Army; so I did it. As the youngest of seven kids, and because nobody in my family had been to college yet, I was really motivated to go to school.

How long did you serve?

It was a total of active and in-active for about 8 years. I was put on active-duty for 6 months, then I was in an active-reserve unit for 6 years. And towards the end, for 2 years, I was put on in-active reserves, where my name was just on the list.

What was the best and worst “military” food you were served?

The worst were definitely MREs, or meals ready to eat.  We ate them while we were out in the field, living in tents. The food was all in plastic bags, and a lot of it was really gross. I never ate the entrees; I usually just ended up trading them off for the crackers and cheese spread that came with it.

But at some point, I remember we went to an Air Force base, and we got to eat there. They have the better food over all the other military installations. The Air Force has it made. If I had to do it all over again, I would totally join the Air Force.

Did you ever travel overseas?

I did, and that was the best part. I joined [the Army]  right out of high school, so I took a year off between high school and college to go to training. My reserve unit went to Germany, and I had such a great time there. I also went to Panama with them. It was fun, and everyone was really nice to me.

I really had a lot of opportunities to do fun things while I was in training in Panama, though. For example, I was a journalist and a broadcaster, so my job was to cover these guys in the news. Once, I went out with a group of paratroopers and they actually strapped me into the plane with a cargo strap, and let me hang out the door that the paratroopers jumped out of. It was by far the best experience I’ve ever had. When I got back on the ground and I talked to other troops about it, they were very angry that I got to do that, and they said, “The only reason why you got to do that is because you’re a girl.

And I thought to myself, “I’ll take it.” Because, you know, girls are disadvantaged in these kinds of jobs enough, so we have to take every little advantage and experience we can.

What was your favorite part of your time in the service?

Basic training was my favorite part. The tanks, the helicopters, the machine guns, the grenades, all the big weapons. I remember going to the range and thinking, “None of my friends are doing this right now, and this is so cool.” I wholeheartedly recommend the military to anyone, it can be a great experience and growing opportunity.

How has the military impacted your life?

It’s the things that you don’t really think about. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the phrase “hurry up and wait”? In the military you wait; you wait in lines for hours, for everything. You wait to get your uniforms, you wait to get your food, you wait to travel. So, I can wait in line for a long time, probably longer than other people, because I have been used to waiting so much in the military. People don’t think about that; the little stuff, you know?

Other people get all frustrated and say, “Oh, this is wasting my time!” Just wait. Patience was a huge takeaway from my time in the military.

I also realized that I am just a teeny tiny small little part of something way bigger and way more important than myself. A lot of people don’t get that, either. A lot of us are so self-centered and so egocentric. That’s another great advantage of being in the military. You realize that you are very small in a huge machine; you need to do your part to make it function.

Elliott Berman stands in Robinson’s courtyard where he works with ROTC after serving in the military for 20 years.

Elliott Berman

What is your position at Robinson?

I am the senior naval science instructor.

Do you come from a military family?

My dad was in the air force for for years but he was out by the time I was born.

How many years did you serve in the military?

A little over 20.

What branch were you in?

I was in the navy.

Why did you choose that branch?

Because I wanted to travel a lot and the navy ships go everywhere in the world.

What did you take from your experience in the military?

A sense of responsibility, pride in the country.

What motivated you to join the military?

If I’m being perfectly honest, I couldn’t find a job in my field. But I had an uncle, my favorite uncle, who was a Navy captain and I always looked up to him so, he was a big motivating factor in my decision.

Did you travel overseas?

I’ve been everywhere in the world.

What was your favorite country?

My favorite place is Singapore in Southeast Asia, it was a really unique city and a lot of fun.

How has the military impacted your life?

It impacted me in everything I do. I got my job because of the military, shaped my philosophy my way of thinking.


Matthew McBride

What do you do at Robinson?

I am the chief instructor.

Did you come from a military family?

Well, I have a lot of military personnel in my family. I have a very big family, lots of aunts and uncles and cousins, so there are some that served but most did not.

How many years did you serve?


What branch were you in?


Why did you choose that branch?

I chose that branch because my grandfather was in it and a friend of mine from my shop class in my senior year of high school had joined the navy while he was still in high school and kind of convinced me to go that route.

What motivated you to join the military?

Well there were some circumstances in my life that I felt would better suit me if I go into the military and I’ve never regretted that decision.

Did you ever travel overseas?

I traveled overseas a lot.

What was your favorite country to go to?



The people were nice and the climate and the world was totally different and that’s why I really liked it.

How has the military impacted your life since?

It gave me a better sense of self and a better sense to teach others how to better help themselves as they get older.

Beaudoin holds a picture of himself from his time in the military.

Steven Beaudoin

Do you come from a military family?

Not really, my dad was in the national guard during the Vietnam war but he didn’t stay in for very long.

How many years did you serve?

23 years.

What branch were you in, and why did you choose that one?

I was in the army because I couldn’t see myself being on a ship. I didn’t really want to be in the air force and marine seemed too tough for me.

What motivated you to join the military?

I wanted a chance to see the world and get out of my home town. I didn’t want to just live in the same place my whole life, you know get out of my house.

Did you travel overseas? 

Yes, many many times.

What were the best and worst military foods you were served?

The best was usually on the holidays, specifically Thanksgiving and Christmas. The dining facilities usually went overboard and did a great job. The worst ones were pretty much the meals ready to eat way back in the 80s.

How has the military impacted your life?

It gave me, where as I didn’t want to college or I didn’t have any real direction in my life it actually helped me become more discipline and gave me purpose in a direction.

Herrera points to a picture on his computer from his time in the navy.

Diego Herrera

Do you come from a military family?

No my uncle was in the military for like 8 years he was aviation ordinance man in the Navy. No we don’t really come from a military family and I didn’t really join because of him.

How many years did you serve?

Four years.

What branch were you in, and why did you choose that one?

I chose the Navy because they had that nuclear program to work on sub marines and air craft carriers. They took a look at my science scores, math and physics primarily, and they said there was a huge bonus so I just took it.

What motivated you to join the military?

Money. Money was the main motivation, and I know that may sound selfish but coming from a family that didn’t have a lot, I looked at the health care, dental care, life insurance, [and] the ability to travel. I was offered a pretty big bonus to join their nuclear program, so I took it. I signed my life away so I could make some money.

Did you travel overseas? If so how many times?

Yeah, I spent some time in Europe. I spent some time in the Netherlands, in Germany and i spent some time in Mexico also but I was primarily stationed out of San Diego.

What were the best and worst military foods you were served?

Something that was love hate amongst the crew were these things called hamsters. Some people were really excited to eat hamsters that day and some people were not very excited to eat hamsters. What it was, was like a chicken cordon on bleu that comes in a hamster like shape. I didn’t care, I was happy to eat like all the time so I was never really picky. I loved all the ship food. Some of the guys were more picky than I was.

How has the military impacted your life?

It has made me a better time manager for sure. It’s helped me deal with different personalities and strong minded people.