Iowa Citizen-Soldier serves dual role as combat medic, civilian firefighter

US Army | Jul. 27, 2023

By Master Sgt. David Eichaker, Air National Guard

U.S. Army Spc. John Shields, a combat medical specialist with the 334th Brigade Support Battalion, Iowa National Guard, representing Region IV, poses for a photograph during the Army National Guard's Best Warrior Competition, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 12, 2023.
U.S. Army Spc. John Shields, a combat medical specialist with the 334th Brigade Support Battalion, Iowa National Guard, representing Region IV, poses for a photograph during the Army National Guard's Best Warrior Competition, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 12, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. David Eichaker)

ARLINGTON, VA.: Army Spc. John Shields, a combat medic in Iowa Army National Guard’s 334th Brigade Support Battalion, embraced his long-held dream of service by joining the National Guard while using military training to fulfill his civilian ambition as a firefighter.

After college, Shields enlisted in the Army National Guard, recognizing it as an opportunity to become a firefighter with a military background, giving him a competitive edge. He finds fulfillment in serving his country and community.

“I always wanted to be a firefighter and figured the National Guard was the best way to get a leg up on the competition,” Shields explained, highlighting the advantages of Guard service combining his military background and medic training in both worlds.

His military skills have proven valuable in his civilian career, where Shields has received two lifesaving awards.

”Firefighter Shields continues to be very dependable,” said Waukee Fire Department Lieutenant Josh Hutton. ”He [assists] the crew with everything that is asked of him with very minimal direction needed. He has continued to carry on this trait and is someone you can count on and trust on medical calls.”

U.S. Army Spc. John Shields, front, a combat medical specialist assigned to the Iowa National Guard, representing Region IV, conducts a spot report as Staff Sgt. Steve Biteler, Recruiting and Retention Battalion, South Dakota National Guard grades Shields performance during the Army National Guard’s (ARNG) Best Warrior Competition (BWC), Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska July 11, 2023. The ARNG BWC tests the adaptiveness and lethality of our forces as our National Guard Citizen-Soldiers remain ready and resilient to meet the nation’s challenges.
U.S. Army Spc. John Shields, front, a combat medical specialist assigned to the Iowa National Guard, representing Region IV, conducts a spot report as Staff Sgt. Steve Biteler, Recruiting and Retention Battalion, South Dakota National Guard grades Shields performance during the Army National Guard’s (ARNG) Best Warrior Competition (BWC), Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska July 11, 2023. The ARNG BWC tests the adaptiveness and lethality of our forces as our National Guard Citizen-Soldiers remain ready and resilient to meet the nation’s challenges. (Photo Credit: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. David Eichaker)

Shields received advanced first-responder medical training as a Guard member and effectively employs his skills to benefit the Waukee community. The Army combat medic’s training exposed him to advanced medical practices, making him a multicapable care provider.

“We get our EMT training through the Army,” Shields said. “We get a little more in-depth for specifically trauma care and tactical field care, then we can focus on more different illnesses you may see.”

Shields’ dedication to service extends beyond firefighting, as he instructs and develops combat medics at the Medical Simulations Training Center at Camp Dodge, Iowa.

“His demeanor, expertise and general knowledge of the military from participating in the competitions make him an incredible instructor and leader within the MSTC and beyond,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew T. Strasser, Iowa National Guard senior enlisted leader.

Shields recently competed in the Army National Guard National Best Warrior Competition.

“I’m actually our [unit’s] first Soldier to compete at the national level,” he said. “It’s a big deal and groundbreaking for us ... a very high honor.”

Strasser said Shields has motivated fellow Guardsmen “and raised awareness of opportunities for our Soldiers and will continue to be our mouthpiece for what this has done for him personally from a readiness and development standpoint.”

Shields plans to start paramedic school and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Firefighter Science Administration to become a fire officer while continuing his career as a member of the Iowa National Guard, crediting the opportunities as Citizen-Soldier as key to making a difference in saving lives in and out of uniform.

For more National Guard news

National Guard Facebook

National Guard Twitter