Staff Sergeant E-6y Denise Spiller served 21 years

MADISON – People often ask Staff Sergeant E-6y Denise Spiller, “What made you join?”

Youngest of 13 children, 15-year-old Spiller was attending community college when her mother passed away. Later on, her father visited her at college to take her grocery shopping.

“Dad said, ‘Have you ever thought about joining the military?’ He took me to a recruiter that afternoon, ‘just to talk.’ Next thing I knew, I was signed up, sworn in and shipped off to Fort Dix, N.J.” Denise said. “That was the best thing that ever happened to me. To this day, I’m so thankful to my Dad.”

After basic training in January 1985, she proceeded to Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson, S.C. as 71L Administrative Specialist. “I reclassified with Advanced Individual Training at Fort McClellan to 42A Human Resources Specialist,” Spiller said.

Her first assignment was with Army Reserves Unit, New Brighton, Minn. and training at Fort Carson, Colo. Going to Active Duty, Spiller transferred to Redstone Arsenal as Administrative Specialist for Garrison. 

Next, she served with 5th Signal Command, Worms, Germany and 67th Signal Command, Bremerhaven, Germany. “I received a ‘European out,’ stayed in Delmenhorst Germany until September 1989 and returned to Huntsville,” Spiller said.

Eventually, Spiller re-enlisted in Inactive Ready Reserves and joined Alabama National Guard in 2000. She liked “being back in uniform” and retired after 21 years in April 2016. 

She served 16 years in National Guard at sites including 142d Signal Brigade, Decatur and 152 Military Police Unit, Hartselle. Spiller trained in Washington; Mississippi; Kuwait; Basrah, Iraq; Puerto Rico; and Sapporo, Japan. With 203rd Military Police Battalion in Athens, she deployed to Iraq in 2009.

Spiller deployed to Scottsboro after April 2011 tornadoes.

Originally from Birchwood, Wis., Spiller settled in Madison in 1990 after serving at Redstone in 1985. She now works as Security Administrator and Export Control Compliance Officer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Her daughter Ashley Elizabeth, 28, works at Heritage Assisted Living & Memory Care in Madison; Ashley and her husband are parents of Jaquay, 7, and Jazmyn, 2. Spiller’s son, Austin Tobias, “earned his angel wings June 8, 2013. He will forever be 20 years old.”

Spiller participates with National Classification Management Society, Academia-focused industrial security benchmarking, The Addict’s Mom and TAM Grieving Moms.

She enjoys time with her grandchildren, gardening and traveling to the beach, Smoky Mountains and Wisconsin to visit family.

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