On a hot, sunny August day, David Goble stood outside a building at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri as the sun shined on the pins on his U.S. Army dress uniform.
Standing across from him was Col. Kenneth Frey, also wearing his dress uniform.
Warrant officers, senior enlisted soldiers and senior officers on the installation, family members and friends were there, too.
It was time for Goble to receive another pin — the one denoting his promotion to chief warrant officer 5, aka CW5.
“I was lucky because the guy who promoted me, we were stationed together back in 2012, and now, we’re stationed here together, and it was very cool,” said Goble, 48, who grew up in Seymour.
“He made it really personal,” he said. “We stayed in touch over the years, and he told a bunch of jokes about me and kept it light and also made sure to tell everybody how much of an honor it was, how big of a deal it was in his own way, and I appreciated that.”
After Goble took the oath, his brother, Ernest Goble, and wife, Rikki Goble, assisted with placing pins on each shoulder. His sister-in-law, Brenda Goble, was there, too.
“I was really quite honored to have so many friends and family that joined us,” said Goble, who also received a bronze De Fleury Medal recognizing his many years of honorable service in the engineer regiment.
Given this is Goble’s 30th year in the Army and he worked for 16 years to become a CW5 made it even more special.
“You very rarely see a CW5, so when you do see one — it’s weird saying this talking about myself — you automatically get street cred and you automatically know that person is a big deal because that rank is so very rare and you don’t see it very often,” he said.
Of the nearly 470,000 active soldiers in Army, Goble said less than 2% are warrant officers. That rank means the person is a subject matter expert of a certain skill and trade in the Army, he said.
“We have several different specialties that you can go into, and when you become a warrant officer, that means you’ve worked in a certain specialty for a given number of years and your leadership has seen promise in you and they have recommended you go take the route of a warrant officer,” Goble said.
He now holds the roles of 120A construction engineer technician, senior adviser to the engineer school and mentor to other warrant officers in his military occupational specialty. He said there are 246 warrant officers in the Army, and only a handful hold his same rank and job.
“I’m still in a little bit of shock,” Goble said. “I don’t know if I’ve fully accepted that I’m wearing this rank yet. It’s such a huge honor, and I wake up every day knowing that I have to earn this.”
Goble was born in Missouri on the same base where he’s currently stationed. At an early age, the family moved to Seymour. Goble went to kindergarten at Jackson Elementary before going to Immanuel Lutheran School for first through eighth grades and then Seymour High School.
Two days after he graduated from SHS in 1991, he went off to basic training.
His father, William C. Goble, retired from the military after 21 years. Plus, he had two uncles and other family members who served in the Army and a cousin who obtained the highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy.
“We weren’t well off growing up, and Dad told a lot of stories about his time in the service,” Goble said. “And to be completely honest, my high school grades weren’t the greatest, and I needed an option, so I enlisted.”
Goble completed basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and advanced individual training at Fort Knox in Kentucky.
His first duty station was in Schweinfurt, Germany. After four years there, he went to Fort Carson in Colorado, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Belvoir in Virginia and South Korea. While stationed at the latter location, he went to Afghanistan twice.
Next, he served at Fort Lewis in Washington, Fort Eustis in Virginia and Hawaii. While in Hawaii, he went to Afghanistan for the third time.
After Hawaii, he went to Fort Polk in Louisiana, going to Afghanistan for the fourth and final time, and then returned Hawaii and Fort Lewis before settling at Fort Leonard Wood.
Goble joined the Army as an enlisted soldier, serving as a Bradley fighting vehicle systems mechanic for a while. He said he worked on different types of tracked vehicles and tanks.
He then put in a packet to go to the U.S. Army Prime Power School, which wound up changing his job to prime power production.
“That’s a yearlong course. That’s very difficult to get into that school, and it’s a very challenging course to complete,” Goble said.
He was among very specialized individuals in the 249th Prime Power Battalion, a power production unit.
“Our job was to set up large power grids,” he said. “For example, if Seymour, Indiana, was to lose power completely, we would come in there. It’s not an overnight process, but we would come in there and we would do an assessment of the damage and use large-scale portable generators to get power back on or to get facilities and infrastructure running again.”
During the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, Goble said they set up base base camps and set up a power plant and a distribution grid so all of the soldiers would have power, water and other comforts.
Of his four deployments to Afghanistan, three were for his work with the unit. They also built infrastructure, including a schoolhouse, bridges and wells.
“You get to use your brain a lot. You get to figure out solutions to challenges,” Goble said. “I enjoy it.”
Next, he decided to put in a packet for warrant officer and got selected for that.
“When I reached a certain rank, I hit a fork in the road, and I took the one going to warrant officer,” he said.
Since becoming a warrant officer, Goble said he has gotten deeper into the actual construction, survey and design of power production projects.
Recently, he and other soldiers helped people on the East Coast restore power from Hurricane Ida.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction you get from a job like this because almost everything you do, you’re helping someone out,” he said.
In May, Goble said he plans to compete for the highest position in his career field, regimental chief warrant officer for the engineer branch.
“If I get that, then I’ll stay in for probably four more years, so we’re probably looking at staying in for 35 years (total in the Army),” he said.
Considering how much success he has had in the Army, Goble is able to share his experience with junior soldiers and officers and tries to use that as an example.
“I didn’t have the best upbringing. We didn’t have money. We didn’t have a lot of the same things that other kids had when I was growing up,” he said. “But my dad made sure to teach us that you’ve got a job to do, you do your job and you do it the best you can. I grew up with that in mind.”
He said the Army made him the man he is today and has taught him many life lessons and skills.
“I’m very thankful for that,” Goble said. “I try to promote the Army and recruit people as often as I can. There are so many opportunities in the military. … Just looking at the technical skills that I’ve developed in the military, I think that’s a good news story for just about anybody out there who is trying to find their way.”