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Published: Friday, 6/16/2006

'Major Dad,' 51, is called to duty, may join son in Iraq; Sylvania man looks forward to serving country

BY ERIC LUND
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ron Skulas, 51, was surprised by a recent e-mail from the Army calling him to active duty in Iraq but happy about the chance to see his son there.

Retired to civilian life from the Army Reserve for seven years, the father of two was a major before leaving active duty in 1988.

One son, Paul, is serving in Iraq with the Marines; the other, Mark, is a computer technician whom the major talked out of enlisting in Special Forces.

Major Skulas of Sylvania said when he arrives in Iraq, probably in January, he will serve "on the front lines," helping Iraqi soldiers take over missions now performed by American military personnel.

"I'm looking at all this as a great opportunity to do something positive, to make a difference," he said. "I'm not being dragged kicking and screaming."

Major Skulas, whose wife died in October of a cancer-related stroke, said his parents and friends have told him they are worried he could be injured or killed when he goes to Iraq. While he understands their concerns, he said he wants to do his duty.

Major Skulas said he volunteered for active duty in 2002 but was turned down and did not hear from the Army again until April. Though details of his deployment are fuzzy - his departure date is tentative and he doesn't know what unit he will join or where he will be stationed - Major Skulas said he is not worried.

"I trust the troops, I trust the commanders, I trust the people over there who have first-hand experience," he said.

Spec. Cory Armentrout, 19, home in Fremont while on leave from Iraq, receives a kiss from fiancee Heather Singleton. The pair, who got engaged during his leave, now face his return to Iraq.
Spec. Cory Armentrout, 19, home in Fremont while on leave from Iraq, receives a kiss from fiancee Heather Singleton. The pair, who got engaged during his leave, now face his return to Iraq.
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Before he leaves Toledo in late July or early August, Major Skulas said he plans to seek language training and maybe get a personal trainer. Despite his age, he said he does not want any special treatment from the Army, such as shorter shifts or lighter equipment loads.

"I would not expect them to make allowances for me," he said.

For the last five years, Major Skulas has been coordinator of the Language Learning Center at Bowling Green State University. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1999.

"I am pumped for dad to be activated," said his son, Marine Cpl. Paul Skulas, in an e-mail. "I am extending my tour another six months, for one of the reasons being the chance to be with my father in Iraq."

Although both said they are not sure if they will see each other regularly, they said they will try to make contact.

Corporal Skulas, 21, is an airport rescue firefighter stationed at Al Asad Air Base in northern Iraq.

Corporal Skulas said he will be in Iraq until February or March.

Another area soldier, Spec. Cory Armentrout, 19, of Fremont leaves today to return to duty in Iraq. While home on a two-week leave in the middle of his one-year tour of duty, he got engaged to his girlfriend of three years, Heather Singleton, also of Fremont.

"We just thought it was a good time," Miss Singleton, 17, said of the decision.

"It's really hard," she added of coping with her fiance's return to Iraq. "We try to think positive on it."

Major Skulas said he will serve for a year "with the possibility of follow-on tours."

Major Skulas said he thinks it is unlikely that he will eventually return to his current job at BGSU, joking he could return to the campus in a different role: as an ROTC instructor.

Before leaving active duty nearly two decades ago, he graduated from the University of Toledo Army ROTC in 1977 and subsequently served in Germany and on bases around the United States.

After joining the reserves, he graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a master's degree in communications and later graduated from BGSU with a doctorate in communications. He joined the faculty at BGSU in 2001.

Contact Eric Lund at:

elund@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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