Thank You for Your Service

Get to Know Some of Our Veteran Employees

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Connection would like to dedicate this post to its servicemembers for their outstanding commitment to our country. Below, you’ll find the stories of a few of our veteran employees.


Sean Baker - Army and Navy - Houston, TX

I joined the Army right out of high school. I went to boot camp and then Advanced Individual Training to learn how to repair electrical and electronic communication equipment. After a few years, I performed an in-service transfer to the Navy. I again went through boot camp and then to Aircrew Candidate School in Florida. I followed this with Inflight Technician School for E2C Hawkeye aircraft. After training, I was assigned to a squadron and was deployed to Panama to assist the DEA with trafficking operations. In between DEA deployments I attended Search Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) school among other training.

After several years with the Hawkeye community, I transitioned to VQ-4 Strategic Communication Wing One (TACAMO) as an Inflight Technician. VQ-4 was part of a survivable link between the President and our ballistic missiles during times of peace or war. We did this by maintaining two aircraft in the air and two aircraft deployed to unknown destinations at all times. I did this for about seven years and then decided to settle down. So, I moved into micro miniature repair of multilayer circuit boards—which required more training—and then left the military for the civilian life in 1999.

I came to Connection as a Senior Systems Engineer with a focus on Mission Critical Solutions. I now work for Connection’s Technology Solutions Group. I hold a long list of certifications which includes a Master ASE for HPE Storage Solutions, a Virtualization Certified Professional 6 for VMWare, and I’m working on AWS Solutions Architect Associate for Amazon Web Services.

 
Kim Brown - Air National Guard - Portsmouth, NH

I decided to join New Hampshire’s Air National Guard after several natural disasters had occurred: Katrina, the Haitian and Chilean earthquakes, and, finally, a severe ice storm that hit our state. Seeing the National Guard working made me want to reach out and see if I could be part of the solution.

Already in my late 20s, I was older than most recruits. But after talking to Army and Air Guard recruiters, I decided the Air Guard was where I wanted to go. Being older, I had to put a lot of my life on hold and change some major things. For example, my wedding plans were cancelled and we eloped. I also quit my job because my employer at the time wasn’t supportive of the decision. Basic training and tech school were physically demanding—but the mental side was easier. When I came home, I was immediately given a full-time Guard position to support the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. When my time was done, I joined another unit.

I also became part of the Honor Guard. For those who don’t know what this is, it’s very hard to get into this unit. We go to funeral services and perform the colors, fire the salute, and the fold the flag. The job itself can be very difficult. Actually holding your composure when you know the soldier being buried—well, it’s a hard day. We also performed at state events and ceremonies for the base.

After four and a half years of being active—and with downsizing starting—I became a traditional Guard member. This was a very hard transition. I took almost a year trying to decide whether or not I could go back to being a part-time servicemember—but I was going to try.

I found Connection at a job fair. I really liked the HR team I spoke with. I probably interviewed Anne Velardi as much as she interviewed me. I accepted a position in sales as an Account Manager. When I started, I found myself talking to people who had also served. Almost every customer I have at this point served, has a child who has or is serving, or has a parent who served. It immediately bonds us, and I really think that this made a difference in some of my success here. It helps immediately inspire trust. And sales is a hard position to earn trust in.

I eventually had to decide if I could be a traditional Guard member while working at Connection. My next promotion would have taken me away for eight weeks, and I realized I didn’t want to go. My husband and I had just bought my father’s business as he worked towards retiring, and I had fallen in love with my work here. The passion for my service time was at its end, and so I left to take my place in Connection’s elite unit.

 
Joel Bryant - Army - Gastonia, NC

I was born in Sanford, North Carolina—a small town with limited work. After I got laid off from my factory job, a friend told me about the opportunities the military could provide. I have always had an interest in technology—I soldered my first board at age 6 and built my first computer from parts I found in recycling bins at 11. So, when the Army recruiter asked what I wanted to do, I informed him I wanted something in the technology field. I enlisted as a 31R—a microwave communication specialist. We set up secure phones and Internet and commercialized big portions of Afghanistan and Iraq. There is an air field near Syria that has a fiber backbone, stable phones, and Internet due to the work we did there. I also got volunteered for QRF—Quick Reactionary Forces. We would clear out areas of where there were terrorists. We would also hand out food to the local children. But, after serving 10 years—and being Airborne 8 of those—my body had decided it could not take the strain anymore. I was medically retired and began a new chapter of my life.

Most of my initial jobs were as an IT Manager for small companies where I was the one-stop shop for everything. Then I finally got offered a job closer to where I lived, only 30 minutes away. I was told I would be working for Connection, but at a client site location. It’s amazing to work with some of the brightest minds I have ever been around. Every day is a great experience, and I learn something new every single day. I love it. I feel so lucky and blessed that Connection gave me this opportunity. April 2017 will mark two years for me, and I hope to celebrate many, many more.

 
Brenda Gollihue - Army - Merrimack, NH

I went into the Army right out of high school. Like many others, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, so it seemed like a good thing to do and I would earn money for college. I wanted to be a linguist, but they didn’t have openings in that field, so I went into communications. Basic training was at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, in an historic area known as Tank Hill. Advanced training was at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, where I learned how to be an Automatic Data Telecommunications Center Operator. It’s a long title for someone who works in a message traffic center. After graduation, I was sent to United States European Command in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany. “Patch Barracks,” as it was commonly called, was my home for the remainder of my three-year enlistment. All branches served there, so I met all kinds of people.

The communications center I worked in was interesting. We worked 12-hour shifts and received messages via fax, printer, and/or in code. Servicemembers, especially Colonels and Generals, came to pick up their messages often. It involved lots of paper shuffling and stapling.

Fast forward 28 years and here I am at Connection. I work on the Digital Marketing Team, executing vendor-funded campaigns and special sales. I didn’t start out here, though. Nine years previous, I began as a software buyer. Then I moved to the sales floor and supported two high-level Account Managers. I joined marketing two years after that. What makes this company special? The people! Like anywhere else, there are frustrations and hurdles to get over, but we have a great camaraderie here, much like when I was in the service.

 
Jonathan Greenlee - Marines - Houston, TX

My family has a multi-generational legacy of military service in the officer ranks of the U.S. Marine Corps. My Grandfather and Uncle were both combat pilots (fixed-wing and rotor, respectively), and between them served in many conflicts of the past 50 years. On 9/11, I was angry—and scared—and knew I was going to serve as well. I was already in college, so I enlisted in the Marine Reserves. My MOS was 0811, a “cannon cocker,” meaning I worked on a crew firing M198 Artillery Howitzers.

Like all Reserve units in the early 2000s, we were locked and ready to go at any moment. There were many rumors about our estimated time to the field, so we kept practicing our art and building some of the highest operational scores as a Marine artillery unit. It’s pretty impressive to see a whole battery of six howitzers pull into a field and setup from scratch. We could go from in convoy to orders received to first round downrange in ~7 Mikes if I remember correctly.

Finally, in 2005, the call came, and we were ready to deploy. But then they changed the game and took away our artillery! We spent the next 4 months in 29 Palms (29 Stumps for those who have been there) re-training with units from Pico Rivera, California, and Worcester, Massachusetts, to become a new Military Police unit. We were set to occupy and protect the Fallujah area about a year after the First Battle of Fallujah.

During my time in the field, we conducted successful operations, maintained a high operational tempo, and never left a man behind—which is the most important thing. Personally, I was meritoriously promoted in the field from Lance Corporal to Sergeant, and we all received a variety of ribbons.

When the units returned stateside, we were disbanded. I was looking forward to getting back to college, so I chose not to find a new unit to re-enlist with. But I’ll forever be a Marine, with fond memories of being on point and maintaining high capability and high spirits alongside some of the finest warriors I’ve ever known.

Twelve years later, I’m a Technical Sales Executive at Connection, covering our Western U.S. region. I’ve had the unique opportunity to build long-term technical relationships with some of our largest customers, including at the C-Suite level. I also work closely on new accounts to make sure they understand “Why Connection for Data Center and Hybrid Cloud.” Interestingly enough, I run into a lot of Marines who have made their way to pretty high positions in technology, and that’s pretty neat.

 
Ed Hannigan - Army - Merrimack, NH

I’m a 30-year veteran of the US Army, having retired in 1996. I started, of course, as a Private, rising in rank to Sergeant before being accepted into Officer Candidate School, where I received a commission as a Field Artillery Officer in 1975. I’ve seen everything from the end of ‘Nam to the end of Desert Storm—and everything in between. It was after Desert Storm when I decided to pack my bags. I’ve now been at Connection for over 22 years.

I started in Marlow, New Hampshire, and helped move the IT Department to Milford before it finally settled at our HQ in Merrimack. Nowadays, I’m one of the IT Night Operators. And when I’m not here, I can be found working as a volunteer with the Goffstown fire department.

 
Randy Lake - Air Force - Wilmington, OH

I enlisted just three weeks after graduating from high school, honorably served in US Air Force from June 1973 through July 1993, and retired as a Master Sergeant. I worked as an Automatic Flight Controls Systems Technician (Auto Pilot). I’m a Vietnam-era and Desert Storm veteran who has seen more bases than some people can count! As a tech, though, I’d have to say my favorite aircraft to work on was the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy. If you’re not familiar with the C-5, look it up and you’ll be as amazed with the size as I still am!

Now, I work in Wilmington, Ohio, as a Configuration Technician. We are responsible for building custom hardware configurations to match customer specs. That can be as simple as applying asset tags, adding additional memory, another hard drive, and loading their image. We also enroll educational Chromebooks so students can use the systems right out of the box. We work on laptops, workstations, mini systems, tablets, Chromebooks, printers, servers and routers. Our goal in Wilmington is to give customers exactly what they want—when they want it.

 
Al Lucas - Air Force - Boca Raton, FL

I volunteered in 1974, and soon found myself working in altitude training, oxygen equipment, pressure suits, and ejection training at Tyndall AFB. Upon completing my service in 1977, I used the Vietnam era GI Bill for undergraduate studies at the University of Florida and earned a master’s degree from the University of Central Florida. I started at Connection in 1998 as a consultant and was hired on in 2002. I’ve done a lot on the Web side of things—built our TRAXX and customer sites—but nowadays I help continue our website’s development.

 
Bill Virtue - Navy - Portsmouth, NH

After boot camp, I went to school in Norfolk, Virginia, to become a Communications Specialist. I received orders to report to the Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range Training facility, where I had the unique opportunity to be stationed off the mainland on a few islands in the Caribbean—including Culebra, Vieques, and others—island duty as they called it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they teach you not to expect anything.

Most of my time was spent on Culebra, a small island between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. These islands were bombing ranges—live impact, inert air-to-ground, and surface-to-surface sites used for training ships and aircraft during the Vietnam war. They were complete with mock runways, strafing targets, and remote-controlled tanks. Twice a month or so, there were as many as 15 servicemen in the observation tower watching and scoring the operations. It was really something to see an Iowa Class Battleship fire a 16″ round and hit its target from miles offshore—or an A1 Sky Raider drop napalm on the range.

Two of us lived on the island permanently. Our job was to keep other ships and aircraft away from the island during operations and allow ships and aircraft to pass through the range when there was no activity. We were Navy Range Control and responsible for two military restricted areas, four military warning areas (airspace and waters), and two civilian air routes between San Juan, St. Thomas, and St. Croix. We lived there for two years, and each week the helo (helicopter) would drop off our food. We had two large Generac generators for power, and we harvested rain water through a filtration and purification system. Uniform of the day was usually just a pair of cutoff jeans. There was a small town on the other end of the island, and we spent quite a bit of time there, learning the local dialect and island customs. Today, the Navy is all but gone from most of these islands as part of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and Culebra has a small resort community. You would hardly know the Navy was ever there. It was a great experience.

Nowadays, I work for Connection and have over 20 years of experience in Networking Solutions Information and Security and Identity Management. I was also a founding member of ISSA’s New Hampshire chapter, which is dedicated to promoting Information Security within the business community.

 

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