Veterans Voices: SFC John Lanos

Veterans Voices

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Typically on Veterans Voices, 7News brings you the stories of our nation’s heroes who have already served their country. 

This time, we got several nominations for someone who is still on active duty. 

Sergeant First Class (SFC) John Lanos is an Army Recruiter here in Wheeling, but this is actually his second time on active duty. 

“I’m a soldier for life,” said Lanos when describing his career.

His more than 20 years of military service started in 1983 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he would become a Ranger. 

“It’s a light combat soldier that can be anywhere in the world in 26 hours or less,” he explained of Army Rangers.

And jump out of airplanes, in his case more than 100 times. 

“The first one isn’t bad,” Lanos said with a laugh. “It’s the second you start thinking about.”

As a Ranger, Lanos said where his service would take him was unpredictable and all over the map. 

“You never knew where you were gonna go,” he continued. “I went to Panama and there you train a little bit, and then next thing you know you find yourself in Honduras.” 

Lanos then returned to civilian life in 1989 after several years as a Ranger, but went back to the Army 13 years later in 2004, becoming part of a civil affairs battalion. 

“The battlefield commander is responsible for so many civil-military operations, meaning helping the populous inside his battlespace,” he explained.

Between 2005 and 2007, he spent 20 months in a combat zone in Baghdad.

“My civil affairs team, we were the first team to get a female clinic, medical clinic, built from the time we got there to the time we ended,” he continued. “We did a lot of other projects for smaller communities and things like that.”

Lanos said there is a lot of work that the Army does to help people where they are deployed that many may not realize.

“I know we did a lot of good for a lot of people,” he reflected.  

After returning home, Lanos remained in the Army, this time going to recruiting school. 

That lead him to his current position in Wheeling as an Army recruiter. 

“It’s been probably the highlight of my career over the last 10 to 12 years I’ve been recruiting,” Lanos said. “It’s my town and these are my people. I have a lot of success stories and that’s basically why I continue to do what I do.” 

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