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    The Deployment Experience

    The Deployment Experience

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Larry Barnhill | U.S. Army Spc. Michael Lasley, a Blackhawk Helicopter mechanic assigned to 1st Combat...... read more read more

    Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base, Romania – Deployments can be an expected part of the military experience for the Americans who take an oath to serve. However, whether it is their first deployment or fifth, the experience of each service member can differ significantly.

    For first-time deployers like Cpl. Ramon Lester, a human resources specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division and native of Sacramento, California, the initial experience of leaving the U.S. caused some culture shock. However, he quickly realized that it was an opportunity to compare the cultures from home to those he encounters in Romania.

    "The way they celebrate their holidays here is different from how we do it in the states," said Lester. "For example, the Easter festival I attended in Constanta was more religious driven, whereas ours is more of a celebration. The civilian local nationals who work on the post here are very friendly and have taught me some words and phrases in Romanian. The civilians I've encountered outside of post are very polite, too."

    For Soldiers deployed for a second time or more, like Spc. Michael Lasley, a Blackhawk Helicopter mechanic assigned to 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and native of Greenwood, Missouri, prior experience helps shape expectations about housing, work levels, and the lack of creature comforts he is used to at home.

    "I wasn't expecting this deployment to be any different than the last time I was here, and I didn't think the experience was going to be so dramatic in the teaching and learning aspect," said Lasley. "We knew we were coming here to do our jobs, but never did I think I'd see the other side to my job and get to learn it in depth."

    For senior-level Soldiers who have experienced different deployment theaters, such as combat and rotational, like Sgt.1st Class Rafael Alamedapabon, a military contracting official assigned to the 904th Contracting Battalion and native of Puerto Rico, there is a wealth of wisdom to be shared with brand new and mid-career Soldiers alike. As a petroleum supply specialist, Alamedapabon deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan twice, respectively, as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

    "During my first deployment to Iraq in 2007 with the 418th Transportation Company, we were in charge of transporting supplies from one base to another, and I was part of the convoy security detail because we worried about enemy combatants attacking our convoys," said Alamedapabon. "This deployment is way different compared to my previous deployments because now, I work in acquisitions and support supply sergeants at the battalion level by helping them procure the equipment they need for their missions."

    Every service member who has deployed at least once during their career has some degree of advice for the service member preparing for their first deployment.

    Lester encourages new deployers to have an open mind, enjoy the experience, try to get as much professional development in your job as possible, and be willing to chime in during professional meetings.

    Lasley advises new deployers to remember that they are not the only ones encountering stressors and they should continue to push forward and accomplish their mission.

    Alamedapabon urges the first-time deployer to never get complacent and always research the area they are going to.

    Whether new deployers, or those seasoned with multiple deployments, the Soldiers operating in Romania continue to build bridges within the local community, strengthen interoperability in the Black Sea region, and hone their personal and professional skills.


    Date Taken: 05.30.2024
    Date Posted: 05.31.2024 05:38
    Story ID: 472536
    Location: RO

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