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    550th Signal Company warrior discovers inner strength

    550th Signal Company warrior discovers inner strength

    Courtesy Photo | Fort Meade, Md. resident, Army Sgt. 1st Class Debbie Langille, visual information...... read more read more

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - As the war on terror continues, so do the sacrifices of our service members. They forgo the comforts of home for meager accommodations of a deployed base. They relinquish the peace and safety of residence in the United States for the uncertainty of explosions and rocket attacks. They surrender many personal freedoms for regulations and precautions. And, they graciously give up precious time with their family for the opportunity to serve their country. All these sacrifices come with a price; however, not all of these are negative.

    Sometimes it takes having nothing to realize what you have and who you are, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Debbie J. Langille, visual information non-commissioned officer in charge, 550th Signal Company, 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. “I didn’t know I was strong enough to be here, and I am proud of the strength that I’ve carried.”

    Langille, a resident of Fort Meade, Md., has been in Kandahar since September of 2009, and says it is hard to believe all the things she has seen and experienced through the deployment. “I couldn’t even imagine this in my wildest dreams.”

    It is not that Langille is new to the Army, but she was new to the deployment scene. “I never thought that after 17 years I would be actually doing this,” said Langille as she explained she was en route to her first deployment on her 17th anniversary in the Army.

    Once in country, I quickly learned that Kandahar was a heavily rocketed area, and that took some getting used to, said Langille. When a rocket exploded near her living area there was no time to think. “I hit the floor, the thing shook the whole building, the alarms went off and I knew this was way different.” The 17-year veteran said she was shaken up but proud of how she responded. “We never know how we are really going to react until we experience it.”

    It is not only my military training that gets me through the precarious environment here, but in large part, I survive on my beliefs, said Langille. “I have faith in a higher power. I believe he shows me what to do daily.”

    Having faith doesn’t mean that I don’t get frustrated though, she explained. “I have times where I get resentful at those who don’t have this kind of hardship, but I was one of them for 17 years.” When you live in the comforts of the United States, it is so easy to take things for granted, said Langille. “I remember when I used to, but I don’t know how you don’t.”

    As a visual information sergeant, Langille is responsible for photographing events, designing a regular newsletter, and archiving it all for historical record. It is an important job that people in the military don’t always understand, said Langille. “I work as a one-man shop, and I really have to sell myself” to make sure soldiers see the value.

    Without this job though, the military would have nothing to refer back to, said Langille. “If it’s not documented, it’s like it didn’t happen.”

    With company soldiers all over Kandahar, capturing the main events can sometimes be a challenge, but it needs to be done, she said. “I try to capture the whole company. They can’t do it themselves.” The tedious detail of archiving things properly and designing a newsletter can be overlooked by people when they think you just take pictures, said Langille with a laugh. “A nice product just doesn’t happen. It takes work.”

    Outside of her tasks in visual information, Langille is also assigned as the family readiness liaison and unit victim advocate. With a variety of serious responsibilities to channel, Langille has stayed busy throughout her time in Afghanistan, but she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. “I would rather keep myself busy so the time flies.”

    Now, as she packs up and prepares to redeploy, she said she will keep those things of value and throw out the rest. “I know there will be a lot of fond memories. I will take what I like and leave the others behind.” Because of this deployment, the few things I will always have in my toolbox now are: strength, courage and knowing how to take care of myself, said Langille.

    And with those things, what will I do after deployment? “I guess anything I want.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.13.2010
    Date Posted: 09.14.2010 14:26
    Story ID: 56252
    Location: AF

    Web Views: 506
    Downloads: 6

    PUBLIC DOMAIN