News: Family fuels human resources specialist in Afghanistan
Story by Sgt. Antony Lee
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Spc. Marcus Eastland was a student at Texas Southern University in 2010 when he decided to change course and follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps by joining the U.S. Army.
Three years later, Eastland, a human resources specialist for Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, is serving on his first deployment at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Eastland said his father and grandfather played a big role in his decision to join and make a career in the U.S. Army.
“It was all about what they were doing, how they established a way for their Family to be successful, and how they just gave everything for their Family and for their country,” said Eastland, a Fort Worth, Texas, native.
Although war is new to Eastland, living overseas because of the military is not. Eastland’s dad, who retired as a master sergeant, was stationed in Panama from 1990 to 1999, covering much of Eastland’s childhood.
“The culture was totally different; it was like a rainforest environment,” Eastland said, adding that there were only two types of seasons in Panama: a “hot season and a rainy season.”
Eastland’s decision to join the Army came not only from his father and grandfather, but also from his own role as a father: He and his wife have a 3-year-old son and a 5-month-old son.
“I had to support my family so I thought the military was the best way,” he said.
Before he came to Kandahar in July, he went on a trip with his wife and two kids to Las Vegas, San Antonio, and New Orleans among other destinations.
“That was our last family trip together,” he said. “We flew, we road tripped, we did it all. I wanted them to experience everything.”
In addition to his blood family, Eastland depends on his military family for motivation during the deployment.
“You build companionship with people,” he said. “With your team, you become a family – a military family.”
He points to many noncommissioned officers as superiors who have helped him along the way, including Command Sgt. Maj. Corey Gill, Sgt. 1st Class Robyn Clements, Staff Sgt. Andrea Madison and Sgt. Stephen Freydenfeldt.
These noncommissioned officers wanted to see him progress as a soldier and as a family man, he said.
Gill, the HHBN, 4th Infantry Division command sergeant major, said Eastland understands the importance of connecting his military life with his Family life, instead of separating the two.
“He encompasses family into military success,” Gill said. “Military success allows him to be the caregiver he wants to be for his family.”
Eastland has been under Gill’s charge for about 18 months.
“When he first got here, he had some issues,” Gill said. “But every hurdle that seemed to come his way, he overcame. I think he will make a hell of an NCO when the time comes. He’s got all the tools.”
Clements, the Regional Command (South) command group platoon sergeant, said Eastland is always striving to improve.
“He recognizes his strengths and weaknesses,” she said. “He takes those weaknesses and does what he needs to do to make them into strengths.”
Clements added that Eastland is “self-propelled” and that he is not afraid to take on new challenges, such as becoming an noncommissioned officer in the future. She also said Eastland’s family is an important part of his life and career.
“The time that he has off, he calls his family to make sure they’re OK, which gives him comfort of mind and helps him focus on his job,” she said.
Eastland, who during the deployment has been filling in different roles, to include 4th Infantry Division chief of staff’s executive administrator, plans to make a career out of the Army as well as pursue his college degree. His current focus, however, is to get safely back to his family and improve himself as a soldier.
“My goal is experience – to get the experience of being deployed in a tactical environment, to become promotable, to re-enlist and be a better soldier and leader for the future soldiers I will guide and mentor,” he said.