News: Carrying on a family tradition
Story by Sgt. Alun Thomas
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — In the MacDonald family, the military life has been handed down from generation to generation, with an overwhelming sense of pride and patriotism.
Spc. Marie MacDonald is no exception. She was born into the Army life and born for the moment she is currently living: to serve in combat like her grandfather, father and brothers before her.
MacDonald, from Chattanooga, Tenn., UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter mechanic, Company B, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, is carrying on a lineage of military service that has spanned three generations and shows no signs of abating in the near future.
"My family is a very military orientated family to say the least," MacDonald explained.
"Both my grandfathers were in the Army, one of them in the 1st Cav., my father is a retired first sergeant and I have two brothers currently in a Ranger battalion."
Added to this, MacDonald said, a younger sister is currently stationed in Germany, and another brother, who served with the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq, serves with the North Carolina National Guard and was recently reunited with MacDonald at Camp Buehring.
"My brother was on his way to Camp Falcon in Iraq and spent a week training here," MacDonald said. "Unfortunately, he wasn't here long enough to pin my specialist rank on, as he left right before I was promoted."
The growing list of MacDonald's entering the Army ranks is soon to swell further with another future addition.
"My younger brother is also going to be joining soon and hopes to serve as a Russian linguist," MacDonald said. "I lived in the Ukraine for several years and am fluent in the language myself."
With such an extensive family background in the Army, MacDonald said, combat history is significant, with a multitude of deployments over the decades.
"My grandfather from my mother's side served in Korea and Vietnam and my father was involved in Desert Storm," MacDonald said.
"My brothers in the Rangers have been to Iraq many times. My oldest brother is currently on his tenth or eleventh deployment as the Rangers deploy every three months or so."
Following in their footsteps is now a reality for MacDonald — now engaged in her first deployment as a mechanic after 18 months of service.
"Obviously I couldn't follow my brothers into the Rangers as they don't allow females, but I chose the next best thing, being a mechanic," MacDonald said, purposely choosing a job that is not traditionally geared toward females.
MacDonald is not the only female mechanic in her company however, Spc. Zana Craig, of Fort Hood, Texas, CH-47 Chinook helicopter mechanic, Company B, 615th ASB, works alongside MacDonald and praised her work ethic and discipline.
"She is very easy going and talks to everyone, but most importantly helps anyone she can," Craig said, in the 615th ASB hangar. "She does her job well which matters most and we fall back on each other a lot of the time for support."
The significant Army background of MacDonald's family can be attributed to her positive attitude and excellent job skills, Craig said, who also noted MacDonald's willingness to share her heritage.
"She is very committed to the cause of the Army, and I know she has two brothers in Iraq, with herself, her sister and another brother to follow," Craig said.
"It's something she is very proud of," Craig added.
MacDonald could not help but notice her father's anxiety before she deployed, something that was not present with her brothers before her.
"My dad is usually the quiet, strong one of the family, but he got antsy at the thought of me and my sister deploying after having three sons deployed all at once," MacDonald said.
Kuwait is a long way from her days as a child growing up in a military family, moving constantly and learning to adapt to new environments, something MacDonald did not like initially.
"Moving every 18 months to two years was something I hated at first but have since come to appreciate," MacDonald said. "I love the fact I lived in so many different places and have lots of ideas because of it; it made me a very patriotic person."
There was no pressure to join the Army as a female in the household, MacDonald said, instead it was something she did willingly.
"My dad said he wanted me and my sisters to live at home until we were 35," MacDonald said with a grin. "My dad said it would be a good way to pay for school and with 12 of us kids, it was a sensible idea."
MacDonald did just that and now finds herself in Kuwait where she is working to ensure aircraft are in superior condition for use in Iraq.
"It's hot and sandy here but not bad actually," MacDonald said, having largely worked nights since her arrival. "I got to see my brother which I was grateful for and my sister is supposed to be coming here this month, but I don't know if I'll still be here then."
One thing MacDonald does know is making the Army a career is one of her main priorities.
"I'm going to try and get my warrant officer packet in before we leave Iraq next year, it's my biggest goal," MacDonald said with confidence. "My ambition is to be a pilot."
"I can definitely see myself doing this for 20 years then."