Maurice Windom described his father as a disciplinarian.
“It was a different time then,” Windom added. “We bumped heads a lot when I was coming up, but that’s the way a lot of the fathers were back then.”
His father was so strict that when Windom was only 17, he figured he would join the military “to get a break,” and because he was underage, his parents had to sign for him.
“I remember when he signed … he had his hands crossed like he’d been summoned there, and he told the recruiter, ‘I’m going to sign it because he thinks I’m strict. Now he can find out what the real world is like’ — that was a laugh,” he said. “We laughed about it years later.”
Yet, though his father was tough growing up, Windom appreciated the lessons instilled in him, which made him the man he is today.
“He taught me a lot of life values that I appreciated later in life.”
Windom was born on April 4, 1964, to Jean Stinson and Herman Windom in Flint, Michigan.
Being from Flint, the home of General Motors, naturally, both of his parents worked for the company.
“It’s a good place to be from — it has so much history, a lot of athletes,” Windom said. “There was a time, because of General Motors and the strength of the unions, that a president had to stop in Flint if they were trying to be elected to be backed by the union.”
His father, who was a renowned jazz musician who played a Hammond organ, inspired him to play, which became lifelong passion for him.
“The Hammond B3 organ is a very unique instrument, and my dad didn’t want people just playing on it, so I actually had to take lessons,” Windom said.
So, Windom began taking lessons in the third or fourth grade, but because his dad was so good, he didn’t want to play when his dad was around.
“Basic c-scales to a guy who has riffs like Jimmy Smith probably sounds like nails on a chalkboard, so I had to wait until he left to practice,” he added. “When he left though, I would put on concerts for the neighborhood.”
In fact, he would often get in trouble when his father got home and found all the neighborhood kids on their front lawn while Windom played.
“Everybody highly respected my dad. He was that kind of a guy, no-nonsense,” he said. “My dad would just pop up and everybody would scatter. It was funny.”
At 15, Windom not only played for the Flint Northwestern High School, but also joined a local jazz band, the Friendship Connection band.
“My dad put an end to that, because I was trying to sneak and play in clubs, and he was like, ‘No, we’re not having that,’” he said, chuckling. “At Northwestern, our percussion department was so good that we actually played in other places under the name ‘The Jazz Band.’ We just couldn’t use the school name.”
And though his love of music continued, as he grew older, he became more interested in basketball.
“I only played a year and a half (on a team), but I played a lot on the streets and in the parks — that’s where we used to get the best games,” he said.
At 17, he decided to join the U.S. Army on a “split option,” which meant he went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for two-month boot camp the summer in between his junior and senior year in June 1981.
All of Windom’s drill instructors in boot camp were mainly Vietnam veterans, who were all pretty strict.
“The military helps you grow up in a positive, fast way,” he said. “I was one of the youngest people in my company at that time. Most were 21 or 22 — they kind of were like big brothers to us, kept us out of trouble.”
After boot camp, Windom returned to Flint to finish high school, though he was also put into a reserve unit to continue his service.
“Kids don’t pay attention,” he added, “when you’re gone during the summer and you come back to school on time, they don’t realize that for two months I was being all I can be.”
It was hard for him to readjust and break the habits he had learned while in boot camp.
“It was funny in the sense that I used to get up real, real early in the morning and polish my boots — stuff that I really didn’t have to do because you go to drill only one weekend a month,” he said.
Once he graduated high school, he was sent to Fort McClellan, Alabama, then to Fort Hood, Texas, as a military police officer.
When Windom finished his four-and-a-half-year enlistment, he decided to immediately transition into the Army Reserve.
“I just wasn’t done with being in the military. I didn’t want to separate, so the reserves gave me an opportunity to stay in and keep my time going,” he added.
Windom went back to Flint and began playing basketball in a pro-am summer league. He was doing pretty well, so he got noticed by a coach, who asked him to play at Alpena Community College.
During this time, he was serving in the reserves at the 357th Military Police Company in Saginaw, Michigan.
“My drill weekends I had to beg the commander to let me out so I could play basketball,” he said. “I had to drive to the game, play, then shower and change, and then drive back, so I could be at drill and formation in the morning.”
His sophomore year, he had a good basketball year, averaging 13 rebounds, which led to a full-ride scholarship to Minnesota State University Moorhead.
So, after getting his associate’s degree in applied science at Alpena, he began studying toward a double major in computer science and math.
He also reclassified so he could join a combat engineer unit near his new school.
“I took music theory and electronic music,” he added. “That was important to me when I was being recruited; I wanted to go to a school that had ROTC and electronic music, which was hard to find.”
During his senior year, he began to lose focus on school and decided to publish a business magazine.
“I found out very quickly that when you don’t really know business, it’s not as easy as when you’re planning it out,” he said.
He eventually folded that magazine and decided to move to California for a fresh start.
Because of the move, he again had to reclassify in the Reserves, this time to the 304th MMC in West L.A., a logistics department.
“In logistics, you deal with transportation, personnel, supplies and food, and we would audit smaller units as well,” he said. “I worked in all of those capacities over the years.”
During his time with the unit, he was also able to travel to Japan a couple of times for Exercise Yama Sakura.
“It was a joint exercise, so we got a chance to train with a lot of different countries’ military,” he said. “I really liked Japan. I played ball when I was over there, and that was cool too because I kind of had a fan club.”
Windom decided to try to learn phrases phonetically to tackle the language barrier.
“I probably had 25 phrases memorized,” he added.
Back in college, he had a couple “bad years” in the Reserves, meaning he didn’t get enough points that year to count toward retirement, as he had been focusing on basketball and school.
“As a result of that, I had to do a couple years extra, and while I was doing those extra years, I got deployed,” he added.
He was in a high-level logistics unit, but when he was deployed, it was because they needed someone in the military police slot.
“One of the officers just happened to remember through a conversation that we had that I was an MP, so instead of them going to an MP unit and grabbing an MP, they just snatched me,” he said.
Windom was based out of Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, and though it was a very difficult year for him, they had to make him come home.
“I wanted to come home really, really bad, but there was a time when I felt like I would be letting people down,” he said. “I was fortunate because the 62 individuals, myself included, that went over, all 62 of us came back, but some weren’t as fortunate.”
When he came back in 2005, he retired as a sergeant first class on June 24, 2005, after a total of 24 years in the service.
“When I came back from Iraq, I was undiagnosed PTSD at that time. I didn’t know, I just knew I had a difficult time transitioning back,” Windom said. “You don’t realize how things affect you until you’re out of the environment. Eventually, I found myself just withdrawing from a lot of people.”
He began getting more into his music, and eventually, started another magazine, which he still publishes today.
Over the years, he also went back to school, and now has a bachelor’s in business, master’s in global business and is currently working toward his doctorate.
Now, Windom continues to travel back and forth to Flint as he has a house there and his mother, sister and cousins remain there.
He also continues to publish “Moeheat Magazine,” which consists primarily of special editions.
“I do a lot of celebrity events,” he said. “I’m always on red carpets doing interviews and local promoters hire me to do media.”
Though the magazine isn’t military-related per se, Windom continues to want to encourage veterans in whatever way he can, such as the special edition he is currently working on for Veterans Day.
“I’m also giving it a little twist because I’m leaning more towards veterans,” he added. “I ran into so many talented military people when I was overseas.”
Windom also volunteers at the local Veteran Center and tries to spend time with veterans.
“I just like talking to and helping veterans because I’m the guy you wouldn’t know is experiencing PTSD,” he said.