FEDERALSBURG — A Federalsburg native is celebrating his retirement after 20 years of service in the Marine Corps.
Jeff Mueller, who was honored in a retirement ceremony at the Federalsburg VFW on July 24, spent his career in the Marines in the Military Police, and traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan several times in addition to other assignments over the years.
Mueller worked with security forces protecting strategic assets before working extensively in executive protection, which included being on the personal protection detail for the commander and assistant commander of Central Command (CENTCOM). That duty in Tampa, Florida assigned to CENTCOM took him to the combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times from 2004 to 2008, protecting the commanders as they carried out their duty directing troops in dynamic and intensely dangerous combat environments. Mueller said the “in and out of country” nature of the deployments made it difficult to get into a good operational rhythm.
Mueller’s 20-plus-year journey and final rank of Master Sergeant began when he was an 18-year-old carpenter installing cedar shake shingles on a roof of house in St. Michaels in early February of 2000. Mueller said he climbed down off of the ladder at the end of the work day, drove to the Marine recruiter’s office and told them he wanted to be gone within a week — and he was.
While he initially was interested in being a combat engineer, then infantry, the needs of the Marine Corps brought him to a Military Occupational Specialty of 5811, Military Police.
Mueller’s decision to join did not surprise his father, Paul Mueller, who said the younger Mueller talked about the Marines “to start off with, ever since he was a child.” The elder Mueller said, “I always thought, ‘OK, that’ll pass — it never did.’” Paul Mueller said the “countless tours” to combat zones were hard for a parent. “It was terrible,” Mueller said, “You hear stuff on the news, and you don’t want to think about it.”
“He could never tell me where he was going — it was probably better that way,” the elder Mueller said.
While the early deployments were the most intense, Mueller’s last deployment to Afghanistan in 2013 was his “most educational.” Mueller served with other MPs and about half a platoon of infantry from Lima Company of Third Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, working directly with personnel in Afghanistan who lived in the area and were working to bring safety and stability to their homes.
Mueller said being in the military has made him look at people differently, and that after serving with such a small American contingent in “no man’s land,” he now knows “some of the best people in the world live in Nowzad, Afghanistan.”
Mueller ended his career serving in Quantico, Virginia, and at the Pentagon, and he said in the coming days, he plans on exploring new opportunities to serve the nation.
“I’m too old to go kick in doors anymore, as much as my heart wants to,” said Mueller, who after moving 11 times in 20 years is looking forward to settling down and being able to spend more time with his two children.
Mueller still in enjoys carpentry in his free time, and is diligently working on one of his major civilian priorities —growing his beard.