Sgt. 1st Class Bruce Wayne Rice U.S. Army Retired

Born to Mary and Garnett Rice on April 26, 1951, at home in Mountaindale, Maryland, was a boy they named Bruce Wayne. Bruce was given the name of the super hero, Batman, and later in life, even though he wasn’t Batman, he was a super hero in another way. Joseph Rice was Bruce’s younger brother, and his middle brother was Dwight Rice. In 1982, while Bruce was in the Army, Dwight was killed in an automobile accident at the age of twenty-five. Bruce has another brother, Daniel Rice, and a half-brother, Bernie Kefauffer.

Bruce went to Yellow Springs Elementary School in Yellow Springs, Maryland. He then went to West Frederick Middle Junior High School. In 1967, Governor Thomas Johnson High School opened and Bruce went there for tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. Bruce graduated from Governor Thomas Johnson High School in 1969, where he took general courses. He played baseball on the varsity team and was active in the high school band, where he played trumpet.

Bruce was on a work study program in the twelfth grade, so he attended school in the morning for half day and the other half school day he worked for Price Electric Co., located on the corner of Church and 2nd Street in Frederick, Maryland. He worked there as a tool dye maker machinist from 1968 until after he graduated. Bruce lived on 2nd Street with his first wife and they had two children: Melissa Rice and Bruce Jr. Bruce worked at Price Electric for a while and then he got a job selling life insurance for Home Mutual Life Insurance Company. He didn’t like selling insurance, because he wasn’t making a lot of money at it, plus there was a lot of travel involved. Bruce went back to work for Price Electric again until he got a job with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department as a corrections officer. He stayed there for six months or so when he decided he wanted to join a branch of the United States military.

In 1975, Bruce enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of twenty-four. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to handle rigorous basic training at that age. When he arrived there, he said to himself, “I really don’t think this is what I want to do.” But he was already there, and there really wasn’t anything he could do about it. Many times he thought, “I really have to get out of here.” But he hung in there and, before he knew it, he started to like it. All the young boys there—around eighteen and nineteen years of age—started to call Bruce “Pops.” It made him feel good, because he took the nickname as meaning that he was going to take care of them and look after them. And he did take care of them by talking to them when they started to say “I can’t do this”; he would say to them, “Hey, if I can do this, I know you can, too.” It got to the point that even the drill sergeants were calling him Pops, because they didn’t think Bruce could take it. Bruce took his basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in July 1975; he said that it was so hot there, and going through all that training, he just didn’t know if he could take it. But he hung in there. Bruce made it through his basic training, and while everyone was out on the parade field, they were informed that some of them would get to go home for a thirty-day leave. Bruce was sure he would be one of them. They were told that if their name was called, they wouldn’t be going home. Sure enough, they called Bruce’s name. Bruce didn’t get a break, because he left Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for Fort Polk in Louisiana, where it was even hotter. Snakes were hanging from trees, and they called it “Little Vietnam”; it was rough, but he put in his time there for the following two months. Bruce wanted to go in as Military Police (MP), but they didn’t have any slots for MPs, so they placed him in the infantry. He was informed that later on down the road if he wanted to become an MP, they would see what they could do for him. They told Bruce where he was going for basic, but they didn’t know where he was going for infantry training. All they told him was that he was going to be in a beautiful, sunny place. He was sent to Fort Hood in Texas and, boy, was it hot down there. When he got there, he got settled and was given his assignment. He was put in Company A. Bruce enjoyed it and said that infantry wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be.

At that time, he didn’t see his family very often. Bruce was married to his second wife, and he had a step-son, Scott Rice. They lived on post when his second wife became pregnant; their second son was born at Darnell Hospital at Fort Hood in Texas, named Charles (Chuck) Rice. Bruce and his family lived on base for three-and-a-half years. While there, Bruce became acting corporal. He came up through the ranks as private, and then private 1st class; his sergeant liked what he was doing and wanted Bruce to be a squad leader, so he made him acting corporal. Bruce was made squad leader and was put in charge of six soldiers. The team worked as toe gunners; they worked well together and took care of each other. If 1st Sergeant said there was going to be an inspection to check vehicles and weapons, Bruce would put the team to work. He told them if they went off he would stand up for them. They would leave and the 1st Sergeant would come in for inspection and ask where his people were. Bruce would tell him that he gave them off, and the 1st Sergeant would say he better be straight. Bruce would tell him he was ready for inspection on the tools and equipment, and, after the inspection, Bruce’s team would come out first every time. Bruce said he took care of his boys and they took care of him.

After a while, Bruce got promoted to corporal. As soon as he was promoted, his Company commander and his 1st Sergeant wanted to make him an acting sergeant, so they made him an acting sergeant E-5; he never got to wear his corporal stripes, so they pinned on acting E-5  stripes—he was still doing the same work he was doing as corporal. As time went on, they wanted someone to take over handling the weapons, so they sent Bruce to school to be an armorer. He came out with flying colors as an armorer, and he took over being the armorer for the company. Bruce maintained and repaired weapons until he left the Company. While Bruce was at Fort Hood, he did spend a six-month rotation in Europe as a standby unit in Wildflecken, Germany. It was like being deserted up on a hill; they did a lot of good training in the snow. He was then rotated back to Fort Hood, Texas. Bruce’s enlistment was getting ready to come up, and he had a four-year enlistment at the time. They asked him to reenlist. Bruce told them he would reenlist under one condition: they would send him to Military Police School to become an MP. They came back and told him they couldn’t do it. So, Bruce told them he was going to get out—that was six months prior to his ETS date. About three months before his ETS date, they called him up and said that they wanted him to reenlist. Bruce restated his original condition. They sent him to MP school, but said they couldn’t get him in because there were no slots open for an E-5. About a month later, they called Bruce and said they found a slot for him for MP school and asked if he wanted it. Bruce told them he would take it, and he reenlisted for three more years. He finally got his orders to report to MP training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he completed MP training. Following his training, they sent him to Fort Benning, Georgia. Bruce was then assigned to the 192nd infantry brigade, which was an MP Unit. Their jobs were to go in the field and direct tanks and anti-personnel carriers through the mountains; when they got back, they did military police work on the roads. After sixteen months, they sent him to Stuttgart, Germany, to Detachment A 42nd Military Police; the main headquarters was in Frankfurt, which did customs work. They checked household goods or baggage that people were leaving Germany with and going back to the states. Bruce remembers it being a very interesting job, because you didn’t have a whole lot to do and you would go in and get your assignments for the day, checking three or four pack outs that people were leaving to go back to the states with, and then you would go to a warehouse where you would store their equipment or their baggage while they were waiting to go back to the states. Bruce would make sure it was tagged to show there was no illegal contraband going from Germany back to the states. While Bruce was there, they decided they would send two people to another site, so he decided he would take an E-4 with him to Gerkenstatd, Germany, and take care of all the people going back to the states; it kept the two of them busy, making the eight-hour shift go fast. Bruce’s time was just about up; he was having some personal problems back in the states, so he decided it was time to go back home and get out of the Army. Bruce left Germany for the United States, and was on his way to McGuire Air Force Base to process out. While there being processed, they asked if he would consider staying in as a reservist. Bruce thought long and hard about it and decided he would. He ETS’ed out of active duty and went back home. He then got a call to report to 690 Supply Company in Frederick, Maryland. Bruce reported to 690 Supply Company as an E-5; he was there about a year when they promoted him to E-6 Staff Sergeant in 2002. Then he was sent to a supply company in Cumberland, Maryland; he was sent there because where he was, they did not have a slot for E-7, and Bruce was up for E-7 Sergeant 1st Class. Bruce made Sergeant 1st Class at the 690 Supply Company, and he was transferred to the 256th Supply Company in Cumberland. When he arrived there, Bruce was informed that the 256th Supply Company was deactivating, so there wasn’t going to be a 256th Supply Company. He stayed at the 256th Supply Company until they did deactivate. Then they sent him to the 372nd Supply Company. A sergeant that Bruce knew since he was a kid told Bruce he would be more than glad to take him in his unit. He stayed with 372nd MP Company as Platoon Sergeant for one of the platoons.

They then decided they wanted someone to take over as 1st Sergeant at Fort Meade in Maryland. They had a detachment down there, so they asked Bruce if he would be an active 1st Sergeant to the detachment unit at the 376th in Fort Meade. He decided to take it and thought it wasn’t too bad there. However, it turned out that he was wrong since he would have to take his entire detachment to Cumberland. This was a fiasco, because they would call Bruce at home in Thurmont, and he would have to go to Fort Meade, load everything up, and then drive to Cumberland. Just as they get there, they would be told it was an alert and have to turn around and head straight back to Fort Meade.

Bruce got married to his present wife, Lisa, in 1986; they have three children: the oldest, Heather; Taylor; and the youngest, Matthew. They all live in Thurmont. Bruce was in the military while they were all growing up. He decided that with the military becoming political, he couldn’t even have ammo to go to the shooting range to practice; he had enough and it was time to get out. Bruce decided to retire with almost twenty-four years in—but twenty good years. Some of the years didn’t count, because he got out and went back in as a reservist. Bruce earned the good conduct medal, ribbons for taking non-commissioned officer courses, armor school, Overseas Award ribbon, ribbons for his tours in Europe, and an Expert Rifleman award.

In a way, Bruce is sorry he left the Army, because of the camaraderie he felt with the men. But when he got out, he joined the AMVETS Post 7 in Thurmont. He feels he has a lot of camaraderie there, like he had with his Army buddies. Bruce joined the AMVETS in 2002, and it is the only Veterans organization to which he belongs. Bruce is very proud to be in the Post 7 Honor Guard, and he tries to participate in all the things involving the Honor Guard. The Honor Guard of Post 7 is proud of all the awards they have been presented over the years, and is now the official Color Guard and Honor Guard of The Department of Maryland AMVETS.

Bruce is retired now, but when he retired from the Army, he went to work with a company called Pan Engineering (making printed Circuit Boards). He then got a job with the Postal Service at the post office in Frederick, Maryland. While Bruce was working at the Frederick Post Office, he met his present wife and said it was love at first sight. Bruce has seven children and ten grandchildren. He then went to work at the Hagerstown Post Office, and was Postmaster of Rocky Ridge Post Office for two years where he retired.

Bruce is a very interesting person and a pleasure to interview. When you see him, please shake his hand and thank him for all the service he gave to the greatest country in the world.

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veteran, and God Bless You.

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