APRIL 22, 2016, by Scott Tynes – From duck calls and shooting cameras to telephones and rifles, Tim Mize gave up a “dynasty” to return to service in the National Guard.
Mize was the personal assistant, property manager and a cameraman for Phil Robertson and made six appearances on his popular television show “Duck Dynasty.” He gave that up Feb. 11 at Robertson’s home in Monroe, La., when he placed one hand on the iconic patriarch’s personal Bible and raised the other to swear the oath of service to the Mississippi Army National Guard.
Robertson said he was not surprised when Mize announced his intentions.
“I thought it was a very wise decision on his part,” Robertson said. “It’s in his blood. He’s a hard worker and a go-getter. A very serving man.”
It’s not Mize’s first time to enlist. He spent more than 18 years in the Army, the last six as a recruiter for the Louisiana Army National Guard in the Monroe area, and left the service in 2011.
After more than 18 years of service, why would Sgt. First Class Mize end a career just short of retirement?
Mize stared pensively at the wall for a few seconds and rubbed his freshly shorn chin. “Look, I really enjoyed my time with the Louisiana National Guard, but I needed to try something else. I wanted to try something new. It was a troubling time in my life and I needed to get away for a while.”
The Tensas Parish native enlisted in the Army in 1992 and remained active until 1996. A year later, he enlisted into the LAARNG’s 528th Engineer Battalion in Monroe. He deployed to Olanchita, Honduras, in 1999 as part of Joint Task Force New Horizons to assist them in recovering from damages from Hurricane Mitch.
Soon after, tragedy struck when his brother died. Mize and his brother, Daniel, were very close. Throughout his life they hunted together whenever he was home and spent much of their lives in the woods. Mize filmed their hunting trips from the age of 13.
“I was away for a year on (JTF New Horizons). Upon returning home, we got to hunt in November and December and then he died that January,” Mize said.
Four days later, Mize deployed to Belize to continue his participation in JTF New Horizons. He became an instructor at the NCO Academy and deployed again, this time to Afghanistan, before becoming a recruiter in Monroe.
During that time, Mize said hunting had lost its appeal without Daniel’s companionship and he rarely ventured into the woods. Then, in 2003, he began to feel his pulse quicken to the quack of a duck again. Without his brother, though, it didn’t feel right. So, Mize took the shared experience they had of watching Robertson’s hunting shows and showed up unannounced at the Robertson home.
Despite his surprise arrival, over the next year the two became friends and hunted together often. He even grew the trademark long beard, which he had to shave before the reenlistment ceremony. Mize said Robertson shared the gospel with him many times on those trips and on May 2, 2006, baptized him in the Ouachita River.
“We just kind of adopted him,” Kay Robertson said. “He’s family.”
Mize worked for the “Duck Dynasty” family by setting up Phil Robertson’s appointments, traveling with him during speaking engagements, mingling with celebrities, building duck blinds, conducting hunts, working in the warehouse and “whatever else needed to get done,” he said.
In May 2009, Mize’s father died. Robertson conducted the funeral.
“Phil changed my life,” Mize said. “I’m a lot stronger of a Christian, husband and Soldier this time coming back into the military. He taught me to move forward and not get hung up on the past – to seek redemption, if necessary – and to try to impact everyone you meet in a positive way. That’s really what life is all about.”
“I’ve had my Army boot camp, but this was more important to me,” Mize said. “This was my spiritual boot camp. I learned integrity and character here.”
That healing process left Mize open to the suggestions of Sgt. 1st Class Obie Simms, a friend from their recruiting days in Monroe, to reenlist and finish his career. Simms had since moved to Mississippi and transferred to the MSARNG. Those suggestions were reinforced when Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Jenkins, Jr. joined them for a frog hunt. Jenkins is the senior NCO of Mississippi’s Recruiting and Retention Office.
“I realized it was something I was missing.” Mize said.
Mize is currently on temporary active duty orders in the Natchez area and has returned to recruiting.
“It’s not the fame or the money that makes the person. It’s the character,” Mize said. “Between television and this, I’d choose this in a minute. I missed the military. That’s why I’m right back where I am.”