Worcester T&G: Shrewsbury native receives Tillman Military Scholarship

Tuesday, August 14, 2012bilde (1)

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Eric Metcalf in Afghanistan in 2004. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)Enlarge photo
Eric Metcalf, formerly of Shrewsbury, has been awarded the Tillman Military Scholarship for 2012-13. The award includes money paid toward tuition, access to the Tillman Community, invitation to the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit, and opportunities to volunteer for active-duty veterans and their family members.The foundation was created in honor of Pat Tillman, who gave up his professional football career after 9-11 to serve his country. Tillman died in 2004 while serving in a 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan.Mr. Metcalf was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot at the time, and flew along the flight path that returned Tillman’s body to the main airfield. The 39-year-old is both an active duty member of the Army and a full-time student. He originally joined the Navy upon graduation from Shrewsbury High School in 1990.

“I really wanted to serve the country, and even though I was accepted to some colleges like UMass, I just felt it was my duty to serve the country,” Mr. Metcalf said.

After four years in the Navy he moved on to join the Army, where he has served ever since. Mr. Metcalf has served 23 years in the military, and is hoping to retire soon.

“I’ve been in the military longer than half the other guys have been alive,” he remarked jokingly.

Mr. Metcalf expects to graduate from Texas A&M in December with a master’s degree in wildlife science. Upon graduation he hopes to become a game warden with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Texas A&M introduced Mr. Metcalf to the scholarship through its veteran services.

“When I found out about the scholarship, the whole basis of the foundation really struck up with me, and it just poured out of me. … It became more than just the money; it became more personal,” Mr. Metcalf said.

Mr. Metcalf had to fill out an application, write two essays, and attend numerous interviews as the scholarship election process progressed. When he received the congratulatory phone call, surprise and pride were his first emotions.

“I actually dropped the phone. I thought I broke my cell phone,” Mr. Metcalf said. His efforts were rewarded with a full scholarship.

Mr. Metcalf took the award as a sign from Pat Tillman.

“Maybe it’s him saying ‘Hey man, you were there for me, now I’ll be there for you,’” he said.

Mr. Metcalf recently attended the annual Pat Tillman Leadership Summit, where he was able to meet with U.S. legislators to talk about educational opportunities for veterans. He was also able to meet with corporate executives and CEOs to talk about the hiring process and conduct mock interviews. The foundation is based upon the philosophy of giving back and setting up its scholars with the maximum preparation for success.

“I really want to represent this foundation the best I can … it’s a huge honor,” he said.

Mr. Metcalf lives in Kempner, Texas, with his wife and three teenage sons.

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