News: That’s the spirit: The story of a transportation veteran
Story by Sgt. Edwin Rodriguez
FORT EUSTIS, Va. - “I want soldiers in the transportation corps to advance themselves. I want them to not limit themselves and push their careers beyond mine,” said Chief Warrant Officer Karen Perez, assigned to Headquarters and headquarters Detachment, 53rd Movement Control battalion, 7th Sustainment Brigade.
Her presence impacts your personal character immediately. If she gave you a task or an order, you would not hesitate to get it done. It is not because she is strict or tough as nails, but because her aura is so positive. As a soldier, you would walk side-by-side with her in battle.
Throughout her career, 27 years in fact, Perez has shown to be an inspiration for others. She is known as someone who cares, who wants to help and who easily gives of herself to others.
“I love helping people, and to be able to be there even just for advice - work related or personal,” said Perez.
She currently works in the battalions’ plans section and is looked to as the subject matter expert on transportation matters. That involves anything and everything between troop movements overseas or on redeployments, to the movement of equipment within the 7th Sustainment Brigade. Before that she was a transportation coordinator up to the rank of sergeant first class.
After 15 years as an enlisted soldier, she took it to the next level and become a warrant officer.
During her time, she also went back to the mobility warrant basic and advanced course, which was once held at Fort Eustis, and was accepted to be the first female instructor. By that time she had already developed quite a career.
She has deployed three times since becoming a mobility warrant in 2002.
“When I was stationed at Fort Bragg, I deployed with the 330th Transportation Battalion to Iraq in 2004 for a year. I returned and had only four months at home before I went right back to Afghanistan for another year from March 2006 to 2007,” she said.
Back in the Hampton Roads area, where she is originally from, she was able to put her experiences together and prepare future Army mobility warrant officers.
“It was a great position teaching future warrants. It was a blessing. I taught anywhere from 20 to 24 students in the basic course. It was a challenge teaching students to go from enlisted soldiers to warrant officers. We have to present ourselves with a different standard,” said the Hampton, Va.-native.
The school house moved to Fort Lee but Perez stayed and took a position in the 53rd MCB. In January 2011 she was again off to Iraq. Another tough position but she was an integral part of the movement operations mission during the end of Operation New Dawn.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces with forward operating bases closing, and soldiers and civilians moving in-and-out. During that time it was hectic and dangerous too. We needed to be flexible and ever-ready to adjust to the situation. We were in charge of the MCTs in country that were required to move troops and civilians In and out of Iraq. My main focus was deployment and redeployment of troops and the main roads to get everyone and our equipment home," she said.
The transportation family has already expressed how much Perez will be missed but she gave a hint that she may be back, only without the green suit.
“I have been in a MCB before, so I was prepared and easy to transition. You have to love it to keep doing it for 27 years. I am still focused and engaged in the fight so I am still positive, but it is time to move on. I might be back in some way with the transportation corps. I can’t say for sure, but I could be back,” she said.
We follow our leaders because we expect them to have knowledge that takes years to accumulate.
Experts in the field are required to be so proficient that the wisdom they express often becomes second nature. When they speak, it flows out of their mouths naturally. Perez’s words come from the heart, an attribute of a wise leader, which can only be learned from years of experience.
Perez ended by saying,”You should always be loyal in whatever your job is. Also stay truthful in yourself and in your job. The truth will set you free!”