News: Why I Serve
By Sgt. Robert J. Strain
1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – While some Soldiers are taking opportunities offered by the Army for granted, others are taking full advantage of everything offered to them.
Spc. Laura Moran, a cook with Company E, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, is one of those Soldiers.
Moran started life in Russia. After high school, she started dating an American. They fell in love and she moved to America to get married in 1997.
She had always wanted to see the U.S., and although her marriage didn't work out, she enjoyed all the freedoms Americans have and decided to stay.
Wanting to get money for college, serve the country and become a citizen, Moran decided to join the Army in 2002.
In 2003, one of those dreams came true – she became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
At her first duty station, Fort Irwin, Calif., Moran got the chance to see America. She was able to travel to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
It was also at Fort Irwin that Moran started taking college classes, and she said her first teacher inspired her to keep improving her education.
"He actually inspired me to learn more," Moran said.
Now, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and deployed to Camp Taji, Iraq, Moran is just eight or nine classes away from completing her bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
"I'm glad I've had the chance to do some classes while I'm here [in Iraq]," Moran said.
While being deployed has slowed her down a little, it has not stopped her from taking classes.
"It's challenging, but it makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something," she added.
After completing her bachelor's degree, Moran plans to continue her education in criminal justice through the Army, all the way to her master's degree.
Going to college was the first step in another one of her goals – becoming an officer.
Moran put in an application packet to the Officer Candidate School, and was accepted and scheduled to attend a class in July.
After OCS, Moran will become a second lieutenant and go to the Officer Basic Course to become an air defense artillery officer. Although the Army chose air defense for Moran, she is happy with the choice because she likes working in combat arms.
Moran's current unit, the 3-227th, is giving her the opportunity to learn how things work as an officer. Although she is a cook, she is being cross-trained to work in the tactical operations center with the intelligence and operations sections.
Capt. Elaine Williams, the commander of Company E, 3-227th, said going to OCS is a great move for Moran.
"It's always great when a Soldier can do great things," Williams said.
Williams, a native of Woodbridge, Va., was enlisted in the Army Reserves before going to ROTC at college and becoming an officer.
Moran said she will stay in the Army after she gets her master's because she likes the rules and structure of the Army.
"I like the Army system," Moran said.
But when Moran does decide to move on and get out of the Army, her plans are to become a teacher.
"I've always wanted to teach criminal justice," Moran said, explaining that all the teaching jobs she investigated required at least a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
Whatever she decides, she said she knows the education has made her a better person.
"I'm glad the Army gave me so much opportunity," Moran said. "Everybody can succeed and make a better life."