On Aug. 20, 1990, while serving in the 101st Airborne Division as an Assault Helicopter pilot, platoon leader and air mission commander, 12th Judicial District General Sessions Court Judge Marshall A. (Mark) Raines, Jr.’s platoon deployed to operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
“I’m a graduate of the ROTC program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga,” said Judge Raines. “I graduated first in my class there in 1987. That’s how I got into the Army.”
Judge Raines served with his platoon in various combat missions to Iraq, including the longest air assault mission in Army history. From Saudi Arabia, they flew troops to a location near the Euphrates River to cut off the Iraqi Army’s retreat from Kuwait. He returned from operation Desert Storm on April 7, 1991. And though his military career is over, he credits those life experiences with his success on the bench.
“I think it’s been probably one of the most important aspects of my life, in how I conduct myself on the bench and in life in general,” said Judge Raines. “I learned things in the Army and in service that I probably would have never learned in any other job training or that type of instruction. I had excellent instructors in my ROTC program. They gave me a good foundation that’s served me well while I was in the Army and after I got out of the Army. Discipline, learning how to work with people, decision making and integrity. Always having the utmost integrity regardless of what the popular decision would be.”
Judge Raines often finds himself applying what he learned in the Army to what’s going on in the courtroom, especially with the young men and women who come before the bench.
“I think it’s a good program. It certainly gave me opportunities that I would never have had if I hadn’t gone into the service. And with all of the branches nowadays, there are just incredible opportunities to do anything, from being an infantry soldier to a rocket scientist, literally,” Judge Raines said.
Although memories of service stick with him, Judge Raines said things in everyday life also make an impact.
“I’m always reflecting back on modern, present day situations,” he said. “It always causes me to reflect back on my time in the service – the training that I had, the leadership examples I had as a young leader and those difficult decisions, how my superiors made the difficult decisions. It helps me make the difficult decisions that I have even today.”
In fact, aside from family, Judge Raines considers his military service to be one of the greatest accomplishments of his life.
“I still think that’s the greatest professional accomplishment I had was leading troops in combat, flying in that environment, and bringing all my folks back home safe,” he said.
Though he hasn’t flown a helicopter since he got out of the service, due to the high cost of operation, he is flying high after 20 years on the ground.
“My oldest son is in a flying club and I made the mistake of going to the airport with him one day,” said Judge Raines. “The next thing I know I bought my own plane, and my wife and I fly around to different places. My middle son, he actually works for the appellate division of the public defender’s conference. We’ll fly from Jasper up to Murfreesboro to meet him for lunch. I actually flew to Memphis for our sessions conference. It’s a whole lot faster than driving. That was fun and that was good.”