Posts Tagged ‘28th Combat Aviation Brigade’
While some people join the Army to find adventure for the first time, a deployed soldier here said she joined to add to the adventures sheâ€™s already had.
Army Sgt. Sierra Harbison, a food service specialist here with Company E, 1st Battalion, 150th Aviation Regiment, Assault Helicopter Battalion, said she first started seeking new experiences while in high school.
â€œWhen I was 17, I had just finished my junior year in high school and I was selected through my church for a Rotary Club exchange program to do missionary work in Chivilcoy, Argentina, a small city in Buenos Aires province,â€ Harbison said. â€œI spent my senior year living with my exchange family and working with children at an orphanage. It was very hard to see so many kids suffering from abuse and neglect, but at the same time, it felt really good to try your very best every day to help them.â€
Harbison said she became attached to her adopted family, and came to view their father as her own. â€œHe was my second father, you could say,â€ she said.
After the exchange program ended, she returned to Argentina numerous times to visit her second family.
â€œI have gone back to Argentina intermittently over the last several years, staying for a few months or a few weeks each time,â€ she said. â€œI tried to visit as often as I could, which turned out to be five out of the last seven years.â€
The area where her second family lives is a beautiful, rural area with agriculture and horse farms just outside the city, she said.
Harbison had completed some of her college education since her initial visit to Chivilcoy, but at 22, she was seeking benefits. Her brother planned to become a member of the Montana Army National Guard, and he talked her into accompanying him to talk to a recruiter. She liked what he had to say. Harbison, not her brother, ended up being the one to join the National Guard.
The Missoula, Mont., native said she came in as a private first class because of her associateâ€™s degrees in Spanish and social science from the University of Montana.
She spent time serving with the Montana State Honor Guard, â€œdoing funeral details and color guards when, due to some personal issues, I decided I needed to do something else,â€ she said.
â€œI found out the 28th [Combat Aviation Brigade] in Pennsylvania was mobilizing and headed to Iraq,â€ she said. â€œI volunteered to go with them on the deployment.â€
Harbison arrived at Fort Sill, Okla., on Feb. 7, and joined the soldiers of her deploying unit. â€œI have gone from [private first class] to sergeant in just over two years, and I feel like I have so many great opportunities open to me now as a result of joining the National Guard,â€ she said.
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey S. Mullett
Spc. Amanda Cleveland describes herself as “a simple girl who is not into drama.” As an Army medic, sometimes she can’t avoid being in dramatic situations, but it is the ability to consistently help and aid people, not the drama, that drives this native of Williamsport, Pa., to excel at her job.
Cleveland graduated from Williamsport High School in 2007 and, at age 17, immediately set off for basic combat training and Combat Medical School.
“I really wanted to go into the medical field and wasn’t sure how I was going to do it,” said Cleveland. “A recruiter was able to get me into the health care field and give me a $20,000 bonus on top of it.”
Cleveland was 18-years-old when her six months of rigorous medical training began and she became very nervous. “It was the longest time I had ever been away from my family,” she said. “I don’t know if I could have graduated if it had not been for a few older friends I had made who shared their previous experiences with me.”
While at training, Cleveland learned the ins-and-outs of emergency medicine and basic medical skills in general. She recalled one particular exercise, which she called “blood lanes.”
“We went through these blood lanes where we had to treat mock casualties in a stressful environment,” she said. “It was fast-paced training and we had to deal with them screaming, among other things.”
She went through similar training at the regional medical training site at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., in preparation for deployment.
Cleveland is currently serving with Task Force Keystone during her unit’s nine-month deployment to Iraq. Leading up to the three-month pre-deployment mobilization, Cleveland was one of several medics tasked with training the Soldiers of the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade in basic combat medical skills. This allows each Soldier to act as a bridge during the time between an emergency and the arrival of a medic. This time is often the most critical in ensuring a patient’s survival, according to Cleveland.
Her supervisor, Sgt. 1st Class Collin Bowser of Indiana, Pa., said Cleveland is extremely proficient at medical training. “She has done an excellent job teaching several hundred Soldiers the basics of first aid,” said Bowser. “And these are mostly Soldiers who are novices at this stuff and have minimal medical experience.”
Cleveland is humble about her teaching ability, but is quick to acknowledge the importance of the subject matter.”I really enjoy teaching, but it’s not always easy keeping a student’s attention, because I’m not a dominating person,” said Cleveland. “I just keep reminding myself that what I am teaching these Soldiers will not only affect them, but also the people they may have to save. I may be helping my students save a life!”
Cleveland is the primary instructor of the 28th CAB’s First Aid Refresher Course at Contingency Operating Base Adder which is taught monthly to a rotation of Soldiers. When she is not training, she is receiving clinical experience in her unit’s medical clinic. She takes vital signs, screens patients, performs asthma treatments and even stitches sutures.
During her 12-hour shifts, she uses downtime to write home. Many Soldiers here use e-mail, but Cleveland prefers to put pen to paper. “I like to physically write letters for two reasons. First, some of my family members are technologically impaired,” she joked. “But really it just feels more personal. It feels good to have that letter in your hand, knowing there was more time and energy put into it.”
This is certainly one Soldier who thrives on putting time and energy into aiding others.
Story by Sgt. James Waltz