LEWISTON — David Vincent could have entered the Army the gentler way, earning a commission for his years of college and law school. But he wanted to run with the young guys, shoot guns and blow stuff up.

The 40-year-old former Lewiston attorney graduated from basic training in Missouri just before Christmas. He is now 70 pounds leaner and a lot meaner.

“I finally decided I’d have a lot more fun fighting in the Army than fighting in courtroom battles,” said Vincent, smiling as he sat back in a crisp, green uniform and regulation crew cut.

In mid-January, Vincent is scheduled to report to the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division in Colorado Springs. By the year’s end, he expects to be serving in Afghanistan.

It’s where he hoped to be when he enlisted last year.

“I believe very strongly in the war and I wanted to play a role in that,” he said.

Vincent grew up in the Chicago area, the son of a Vietnam-era Navy officer. He loved studying weapons, and became an amateur marksman as a young man.

He thought about entering the military life, but instead went to college — earning a bachelor’s degree at Colby College in Waterville and a law degree back home in Chicago.

He married, began practicing law, and settled down in, first Chicago, then Washington, D.C. After the 9/11 attacks, he grew unsettled

“D.C. was a pretty chaotic place to be,” he said. He knew Maine from his college days and headed north with his wife and daughter, Liberty.

While working in Lewiston, Vincent served on a variety of city groups, including the Planning Board. He also ran for a seat on the City Council, but lost.

Then, Vincent and his wife divorced. When the Army raised its maximum enlistment age to 42, Vincent saw his chance to do what he always dreamed of doing.

I sort of nurtured it quietly for years,” he said. “I’ve always been a bit of a patriot.”

He withdrew from the Maine Bar and began working out. To meet the physical requirements, he dropped 35 pounds.

In basic training, he lost another 35 pounds trying to keep up with men young enough to be his sons. The next-oldest man was 30. There were a couple of guys in their mid-20s, most were 18 to 20.

“I became the old guy,” he said. “I loved it. I reveled in it. The drill sergeants found that they could motivate the young recruits sometimes if I was outdistancing them on a ruck march or a run.”

Talking about his decision to leave the suit-and-tie world for combat boots and camouflage drew shock from his comrades.

“That just opened a whole can of questions,” he said. “For most of them, it would seem to be an improvement to work in an office.”

“I told them, ‘If I wanted to be a lawyer, I would have stayed a lawyer,'” he said.

So he trained as a combat engineer, learning how to clear a road of explosives and use bombs to open a mountain cave.

“A year ago, I wouldn’t have known the first thing about how to set explosives charges,” he said.

So far, he plans to stay in the Army past his three-year enlistment.

“I’m just having too much fun doing what I’m doing,” he said.

When he’s done, he plans to head back to Maine.

“I think I’ll return here when I’m done playing soldier,” he said.

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