Story and photo by Pfc. Nathan Thome
1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – “People my age and younger were fighting, getting shot at and dying for me and my freedom,” said 1st Lt. James Carrigan. “I realized I had to make a decision; I could either sit back and watch these people fight and die for us, or I could get off my butt and go out and join them.”
Carrigan, a successful lawyer practicing banking law, said he decided to join the Army when he heard stories of Soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I wanted to make a difference, be a part of something greater,” said Carrigan who is an intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance platoon leader for Company A, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
The platoon leader said he studied banking law for five years and took the Missouri bar exam in 2000 and the Illinois exam in 2001.
Before joining the Army, Carrigan worked with small banks, helping the institutions deal with litigations and regulators such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Joining the Army was a thought Carrigan said he toyed with a few times before his commission.
After high school, he considered joining the service, but said the time was not right. The thought crossed his mind again after undergraduate school, but Carrigan decided to continue with his education in law.
When he finally decided to join, Carrigan said his life changed a lot.
“I lived alone and was used to doing everything myself,” Carrigan said of adapting to life in the Army. “Then when I enlisted I was shoved into a bay with 50 other guys and was told what to do all day every day.”
“This new lifestyle took a lot out of me, but I pushed forward and adapted. That is how I got to be where I am today,” he said.
The transition from civilian life to that of a servicemember was tough, but Carrigan said he was not alone.
“When I told my Family
I was enlisting, they became the number one fans of the Army,” Carrigan said. “They were extremely supportive, even after all the time and money I spent pursuing an education in law.”
Since that time, Carrigan said he has learned a lot about being an officer and encourages Soldiers to be the best they can.
Pfc. Spencer Elmore, an intelligence analyst who serves in Carrigan’s platoon, said Carrigan is an energetic leader who loves his job.
“(1st) Lt. Carrigan is
a great platoon leader and he knows how to handle his troops,” he said. “He respects everyone he works with and that respect is returned.”
Carrigan knows how to get work done and has fun in the process; in a job where getting work done on time is crucial, he is able to manage his time to balance work and play, Elmore said.
The lawyer turned Soldier said he keeps his legal credentials up-to-date and has fond memories of his law career, although being with his fellow Soldiers and serving his country is his priority at the time.
“It takes a special group of people to do what we do,” Carrigan said. “We chose to wear this uniform and serve our country. Not everyone has the heart to do that. It is a common link that everyone in the Army shares. It establishes camaraderie, and I am proud to serve with every single one of them.”