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    A no limit soldier

    A no limit soldier

    Photo By Sgt. Kandi Huggins | Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Grippe, senior noncommissioned officer, Central Command,...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Kandi Huggins 

    3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

    FOB APACHE, Afghanistan - “I stick by this: limitations are only what you set on yourself,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Billie Jo Boersma, senior noncommissioned officer, Combined Task Force Duke. “Whether male or female, strive to be the best you can be.”

    Since the Revolutionary War, women have served the Army as nurses, seamstresses, and cooks for troops in camp. A few served in nontraditional combat roles alongside their husbands, disguised as men, or as spies, alerting American troops to enemy movement in their colonies and along the frontier.

    By the 1990s, women commanded brigades, battalions, and company size units in combat support and service support units.

    It was in this decade that Boersma enlisted into the Army.

    “Command Sgt. Maj. Boersma has excelled since her entry in the Army,” said Col. Bill Ostlund, commander, CTF Duke. “She was selected as a post NCO of the year, inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, selected as “Iron Sergeant”, and was the U.S. Army’s Drill Sergeant of the Year in 2003.”

    She was promoted ahead of her peers to sergeant first class and master sergeant. And frocked sergeant major with only 15 years in the Army – a feat Ostlund said is nearly unheard of for service members, of any gender, in any military service.

    Now, deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Flagstaff, Ariz., native serves CTF Duke as the senior enlisted advisor for Ostlund.

    As the senior enlisted advisor, Boersma teaches, trains, mentors and articulates the mission while understanding the commander’s intent.

    While CTF Duke supports OEF by being a multi-functional force that trains, assists and fights next to their Afghan partners, it is also a pilot brigade for the Women in the Army Program.

    “We are the test brigade for WITA, and are currently deployed as a light infantry brigade with females embedded in our maneuver units,” said Boersma. Every soldier is critical– and it is imperative that we capture our lessons learned and share them with the Army. Throughout our formations in Afghanistan, unless someone was to ask, females are transparent.

    Throughout her career, fellow service members have witnessed the consummate warrior, leader, athlete, role model, wife, military spouse, and mother Boersma is.

    “She thrives in the service of her country,” said Ostlund. “Her positive attitude and commitment is infectious and consistently inspires seniors, peers, and subordinates, to include service members and community members of all genders.”

    “People play it up, but I play it down,” said Boersma. “I’m a female, a mother, a wife; I’m a sister and I’m a soldier, it’s just what I do. I want someone to look at me and be able to say I didn’t allow society, America, or the Army to tell me I couldn’t do something. Everything should be based on performance, merit, and your ability to get after what you want.”

    In hopes to continue service as long as she can, Boersma said she looks forward to the day when the merit and ability of a person is more important than their gender.



    Date Taken: 07.31.2013
    Date Posted: 08.01.2013 03:12
    Story ID: 111164
    Hometown: FLAGSTAFF, AZ, US
    Hometown: FORT KNOX, KY, US
    Hometown: FORT RILEY, KS, US

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