Caleb Pope was 17 when he joined the Alabama Army National Guard. His parents had to sign for him. He was about to graduate from Spring Garden High and didn’t know what career path he wanted to take. His father had served in the Navy, and his grandfather served in the Army during WWII, so he thought he’d follow them into the military.
“I wanted to do something,” Pope said. “I didn’t feel like I was ready to go to college yet, but I wanted to do something that mattered.”
He took his basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., and ended up being in the 1st of the 131st Armor Batallion, which deployed for Operation Noble Eagle from 2002 to the end of 2004. After the deployment, he went to work full time for the National Guard. He was deployed again from 2007-09 for Operation Endearing Freedom. Pope currently serves with the 1166 Military Police Co.
In 2009, he went to work at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. He lived in Gadsden at that time and commuted. When he was laid off because of budget cuts, he studied advanced EMT and nursing at Gadsden State. He worked on ambulances from 2010-15 when he graduated from nursing school.
Out of nursing school he went to work at Gadsden Regional Medical Center where he worked in MICU and in the ER. Pope currently works as a critical care nurse at Regional Medical Center in Anniston.
“You never know what you’re going to get from one day to the next,” Pope said. “I’m either in ICU or the emergency room, so I never know what my day well be like. It’s always mentally challenging. It’s not just mundane. You don’t go through the motion of doing repetitive work.”
He said what he enjoys most about his job, as most nurses do, is helping people, which is the actual joy of his job.
“It keeps you on your toes,” he said. “It keeps you moving.”
Pope isn’t the only registered nurse in his family. There are three others. His father works is in critical care as well and that influenced Pope when he was a child.
“It did have an influence on me, hearing the things my dad would talk about when he came home from work,” Pope said. “I’ve always had an interest in the medical field. It was definitely a change of pace from what I did in the military.”
Pope’s father, Charles, works at Redmond Hospital in Rome, Ga. His mother, Angela, is a nurse at Piedmont Healthcare Center. They live in Spring Garden.
Pope met his wife, the former Breanne Crowe of Powder Springs, Ga., at Gadsden State. She was studying nursing and was in a class above him. She works with Alacare. They have four children. Ansley is 11, Michael and Maci are 9 and Emma Grace is 1.
Pope often spends 12 hour or more a day at work. It’s not always easy to maintain a family life. He gives Breanne credit for doing so.
“I have no clue how she manages,” he said. “I have an amazing and well organized wife. I tell her all the time she’d be a great 1st sergeant because she stays on top of the beans and bullets.”
Mowing grass, he smiles, is his quiet time. Hectic as it is, he prioritizes his time off from work and makes it a point to put his children first.
“I take advantage of hanging out with my kids and enjoying time with them,” he said. “I try to not be selfish and I don’t occupy my time with things I want to do. I want to be with them.”
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