News: Operations director in Afghanistan nears end of second deployment
Story by Sgt. Antony Lee
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – On Christmas Eve 2013, Maj. Tony Noce sat on a helicopter in southern Afghanistan with country singer Kellie Pickler, on his way to deliver presents to Soldiers.
For the second time in his Army career Noce, a Knoxville, Tenn., native, was thousands of miles from his home and family on Christmas, but he said he wasn’t thinking about himself that night. He wanted to give Soldiers serving at small forward operating bases a taste of home.
Noce, currently serving at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, with 4th Infantry Division, is the personnel plans and operations director for Regional Command (South). Part of his job is to organize visits by celebrities who come to Afghanistan to boost morale for deployed Soldiers. His other responsibilities include helping out with casualty operations, human resources planning for significant operations and providing essential personnel services to RC(S).
He joined the U.S. Army in July 2002 and commissioned as a second lieutenant in January 2003 after completing Officer Candidate School. His first deployment came in 2007, when as a civil affairs team leader, he helped support a provincial reconstruction team in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Noce said his favorite part of being in the Army is the shared sense of commitment Soldiers have, especially in a warzone. Soldiers truly have to rely on each other, he said.
“The Army to me is a family. It’s unlike any organization in the world,” he said. “That type of camaraderie – you can’t duplicate that anywhere. I’m just glad I can be a part of it.”
The last time Noce returned from a deployment, the first thing he did was take his team out to breakfast. He remembers thinking about how he no longer took things for granted, he said.
Noce is close to finishing his second deployment in Afghanistan. He said he has enjoyed the partnership aspect of serving in Afghanistan as he interacts daily with service members from other countries who have come together for this mission.
Noce also said he enjoys learning from his peers, subordinates and superiors.
“If you ever stop learning from the people around you, you might as well hang it up,” he said. “Hopefully I can learn and keep getting better every day.”
Cpl. Jacob Upchurch, who works for Noce, said it has been a great experience to serve as one of his Soldiers.
“He is the best plans and operations (officer-in-charge) I’ve ever had,” he said, adding that he has now worked with five of them. “He has very high standards, and he expects the best. I do my best for him.”
Lt. Col. Michael McGregor, Noce’s supervisor, said Noce is very professional and always gets the job done.
“I’m lucky to have him on my team,” McGregor said. “He was hand-picked to deploy with us.”
Noce, who said he wants to make his family and country proud, wants to continue to serve in the military as long as the Army will have him.