Conversation with a soldier

Growing up as one of five kids in a single parent home in Alabaster, Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Bivens of the U.S. Army never imagined he would be on active duty in Iraq, much less his third tour of duty.

But that’s exactly what the 1984 Thompson High graduate has done, as Bivens began his third tour three weeks ago at Joint Base Balad.

Bivens recently sat down with the Alabaster Reporter for an exclusive interview from Iraq via the Internet.

“I grew up in a close community, my mother was a single parent and she did the best she could,” Bivens said. “I never in a million years imagined the military would be the career path I would choose.”

But the 49th Transportation Battalion manager did choose that career path, just as every soldier in uniform has done.

“All service members that wear the uniform chose to wear that uniform,” Bivens said. “They are the best and brightest.”

Bivens is responsible for the movement of all supplies and personnel that goes through Joint Base Balad, meaning he sees almost everyone who passes through his jurisdiction.

And one day, he may even see a more familiar face.

Bivens’ son, Lamorris, 21, recently joined the Air Force.

“He probably should have joined the Army instead of the Air Force,” Bivens said jokingly. “I’m extremely proud of him.”

Bivens has two other children, Jeremy, 13, and Jasmine, 11, and he is married to wife Tanya. The family now lives in Fort Hood, Texas.

Bivens’ mother, Annie, still lives in Alabaster, while sister Wanda Williams and brother Danny Tanniehill live in the Birmingham.

Bivens’ mother, brother and sister even stopped by the Shelby County Reporter/Alabaster Reporter office Thursday to surprise the soldier during the exclusive interview.

“He said he can’t believe this,” said Annie, who hasn’t seen her son in a year.

The three members each shared an emotional moment with Bivens at the conclusion of the interview.

“God’s got great things for you,” Williams said to her brother.