Blount Memorial Hospital was named in honor of Blount Countians who have died in the line of duty, those missing in action, and those who served and continue to serve our country. Recently, one of Blount Memorial’s own said farewell to his friends and staff to join those men and women leaving to serve our country in Iraq.
Michael “Mike Burns says his grandfather and uncles are who inspired him to follow his path in security and the military. Burns says his grandfather, Robert Orr, served our country in the United States Marine Corps, and two of his uncles, Terry and Jerry Orr, serve our community through the Blount County Sheriff’s Office. “I remember hearing great stories from them as a child, and they inspired me,” Burns says.
Born and raised in Blount County, Burns graduated from Heritage High School in 2004. In May of 2006, he joined the Army National Guard and in August 2007, he began working for Blount Memorial Hospital as a security officer. Burns said he considered joining a law enforcement agency, but saw more opportunities to reach his goals in hospital security. “It’s more of a stepping stone for me that I think will open other doors,” he says. “I saw more of an opportunity for advancement in my career.”
Burns says he also chose Blount Memorial because of its assistance in furthering education. He says he looks forward to getting more law enforcement education and eventually enjoying a long career in law enforcement, with hopes of one day working for a federal agency. One of his short-term goals is to return to Blount Memorial after his service in Iraq to work with his friends. “They make it fun and enjoyable to come into work,” he says. “Why leave somewhere you are already established and have friends?”
Burns has spent a few weeks off relaxing before beginning his one-year journey in convoy security for the Army National Guard’s 278th Armored Calvary Regiment, which will start off at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. In convoy security, soldiers implement a plan of ensuring that necessary security is maintained on items being escorted from their point of origin to a designated destination.
In February, Burns will be traveling to Kuwait and will stay there for a short time before going to Iraq, where he will continue doing convoy security for the remainder of the year. In December, 2010, Burns will be returning home to his parents, Barbara Burns and Larry Wayne Fagg, his fiancée Amanda Knight, and her 1-year-old son, Colton Lynn.
He says it has just recently sunk in that he will be gone for a year. “I try not to think about it,” he says. “It’s going to be hard for me to actually leave.” One reason it has recently become more real is because of Veteran’s Day, Burns says. “Knowing that I’m leaving gave me a whole new understanding of what it means.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Burn’s co-workers threw a going-away reception for him in the Blount Memorial security office. They presented him with thank-you gifts in recognition of his service to our country. His supervisor, Rick Silvis, told him how much he would be missed and said the security staff looks forward to his return to Blount Memorial. “I just want you to come home safe, buddy,” Silvis told him.
Burns says he has decided not to say “goodbye” to his co-workers, friends and family. “I can’t say goodbye because I plan on coming back,” he says. “So for now, it’s ‘see ya.’”