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    Soldier Highlight: Eye on the Prize

    Soldier Highlight: Eye on the Prize

    Photo By Sgt. Nicholas Vidro | U.S. Army Pfc. Waraporn Wangmulanklang, a combat engineer with Company A, 70th Brigade...... read more read more

    As the day to day hustle and bustle of Baghdad whirs through her ears Pfc. Waraporn Wangmulanklang keeps her sights laser-focused on her surroundings. Her eyes pointed down the scope of her rifle, scanning for threats on the ground, may be the only thing keeping this UH-60 Blackhawk in the sky. Then it disappears beyond the horizon. Finally she can breathe again, resuming her dutiful watch. It may sound like a stressful encounter out of a war movie, but for this combat engineer it's all a part of the challenge she's been waiting for.

    Wangmulanklang was born in the countryside of Thailand, south of Bangkok. Growing up on a farm with her grandparents, she had an upbringing that brought challenges, along with the freedom of the outdoors. At age 10 she moved to San Diego, Calif. with her mother and step-father, a doctor in the US Navy.

    “I was young when I left Thailand,” she reminisced, “I don't remember too much. There was a lot of being outdoors and being active. My grandparents worked on a farm so I had that kind of upbringing. After moving to San Diego I stayed active, got into all kinds of sports; skateboarding, BMX, and stuff like that. I used to play flag football for a bit. I really got into soccer, and that got me into college. I got a scholarship to San Jose State (University) to play there. I was only there for a year though.”

    Always being ready to test her limits, Wangmulanklang held down multiple jobs after her brief before enlisting in the Army. It was at one of these jobs that the gateway to the Army would be offered to her.

    “I didn't even have any knowledge of the military or anything like that before I joined,” she said, “I was working two to three jobs and going to school. It was getting a bit hard, but a recruiter walked into my job one day, and said 'you should just come down'. I went with my friend and got a little bit into it. I thought 'Okay maybe this is the route I want to go, more benefits, while I still want to pursue my career.'

    Only 15 months in the Army and she's already made the Alpha “Aegis” Company, 70th Brigade Engineer Battalion Marksmanship Team, and trained along with Combined Joint Task Force partners as well as special operations.

    “So far my Army career has been everything I hoped for, I haven't gotten the chance to do a lot of field training,” she said. “I was only at BEB (70th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division) for two months before getting deployed. I got my initial issue and got deployed almost immediately. From that end I didn't really know about the job itself or the military beyond what I learned in basic training and OSUT(One Station Unit Training), but I have great leadership that's guided me through. It's been a great learning experience so far.”

    When it comes to exceeding the standard, Wangmulanklang makes it a priority to shine in every effort. Her supervisor, Sgt. Joseph Lawrence, a combat engineer with Company A, 70th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, brought up her desire to go above and beyond in all ways.

    “She was picked because she's one of the best marksmen in the company,” he said. “She's really outdone some of my previous soldiers so far; she's always motivated, always ready to go, never complains, and always finds a way to push past her limits.”

    Lawrence recalled what it was like to see his new soldier get ready for their new post, noting that neither one of them has a sniper tab, but they were trained by snipers. More so they were chosen for this position where they have to make tough decisions. He recalled: “Most people are afraid to be put in that role, but she jumped right in.”

    While preparing to be a member of the marksman team Wangmulanklang recalled what the training was like.

    “The training I went through to make the team was really fast-paced,” she said, “It was a lot of self-motivated learning, so studying technical manuals, looking up what was expected of us and still to this day learning the intricacies of the weapons we need to be proficient on. In the beginning I was pretty nervous. The team was constantly studying and learning from people that preceded us. By the time the range came up though I was prepared to qualify.”

    Since being deployed to Iraq, the newly-enlisted soldier has not only been put on a very important detail but has learned to trust in her team no matter what.

    “When the embassy protests started I actually had the day off,” she recalled. “I was sitting by and the alarm went off, I was thinking 'Is this the test alarm?' and then I noticed my team rushing out and I followed. By the time we started pulling security there were other teams in place and I knew we had things under control. I wasn't too worried about things with my team behind me.”

    That kind of confidence in herself and others was instilled in her from an early age. Since then she's been able to bring many stories of her successes home.

    “One of my greatest inspirations has been my grandmother,” she said. “She's inspired me a lot across my life. She pretty much raised me and gave me everything. Seeing her smile after telling her about my days just keeps me going. Even though we didn't have a lot she taught me to deal with the hand I'm dealt. I'm thankful that she gets to see me accomplish so many goals. She's always told me 'If you want it, go get it!'”

    With the warm sentiments from her family in her heart, Wangmulanklang has worked hard and been unafraid of the hurdles ahead of her. When she's challenged she takes another route entirely.

    “Seeing a challenge actually motivates me,” she said. “I can't stand just being at the same level, or just achieving the standard. Every day provides a new challenge, a new obstacle and I just want to get to learn about it, conquer it, and move onto the next challenge.”

    As the Army opens her to more challenges, she stands ready to conquer new obstacles and learn from her experiences, even though she's already accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.

    “I've been in the Army for 15 months now and I'm confident where I am,” she said, “I feel like this is where I'm meant to be. Don't get me wrong, I'm still given tasks that take me out of my comfort zone, but I have no problems adapting to it. Looking back, the Army opened a lot of doors for me. Even though sometimes things are faster, it creates a clear precedent for me to fulfill.”



    Date Taken: 05.23.2020
    Date Posted: 05.23.2020 13:19
    Story ID: 370697
    Location: BAGHDAD, IQ 
    Hometown: SAN DIEGO, CA, US

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