FORWARD OPERATING BASE MASUM GHAR, Afghanistan - When you compare Capt. Angela Chipman to Santa Claus or Mrs. Claus, there isn't many similarities. She doesn't have a big white beard, a red suit and doesn't rely on reindeer to get from one place to the other.
Despite these key differences, she does share one important trait with the fictional Claus family- Chipman loves to give.
“In many ways, giving is what makes me tick,” said the Williamsburg, Iowa native. “I’ve always been drawn to the military because its’ very foundation is based on the concept of sacrifice and putting the lives of others above your own.”
During a recent mission to a village in the Daman district, southern Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Chipman arrived, like she had so many times before, bearing gifts- making her a welcomed site to the villagers in Daman.
“The people of Daman seem very positive toward coalition forces,” said Chipman. “Even in some of the villages where we know there is a Taliban influence, the villagers are very happy to have us come in with the Afghan National Police during partnering operations.”
With the temperatures in Afghanistan drastically dropping to below freezing temperatures Chipman, brought the children knitted caps to help protect them from the harsh weather.
Chipman, the Female Engagement Team leader with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, distributed more than twenty-five knit caps, to the local Afghan children.
The knit caps were donated to Chipman, to distribute during her deployment, by another charitable ‘giver’, Mrs. Vicki Carter, who also resided in Chipman’s hometown.
“She’d made each of those little hats by hand and wanted to put them into the hands of people who needed them the most,” Chipman added. “She wanted no recognition or payment in return, only asking that I give her a picture of those receiving her gifts. Her willingness to sacrifice personal time and resources to give something of comfort to people she doesn’t know in a country thousands of miles away brought me closer to home this Christmas season than I was expecting possible.”
Although the holiday season is a great time to highlight the spirit of giving, Chipman has made it a year-round mission.
During the summer months, she joined her team for routine missions into the local villages. As a FET leader, her team is responsible for visiting villages and talking with the local female population.
“I love working with the Female Engagement Team because there is no other job out there that allows me to get as close to the female population in Afghanistan as this,” said the FET leader.
In addition to bringing vital supplies to the Afghan people, Chipman and her team focus on giving the local people the skills necessary to improve their way of life. One of those skills is how to purify water.
“Teaching someone how to make their drinking water clean may not sound like the sexiest thing happening but it will directly impact their immediate health and welfare which, in the long run, will have an indirect influence on other things,” she added. “As they’ve put it, ‘You’re doing your job to better our lives’.
Although she is very humble about the things she does, she has become somewhat of a figure to emulate not only to people she provides for but also Soldiers and leaders she serves with.
“Capt. Chipman is a phenomenal asset to the Battalion; her positive, team-centric attitude impacts all facets of the organization,” said Maj. Jason Nierman, the executive officer for 2-8FA. “She has assumed numerous roles within the unit and has maintained excellence in her core duties as the senior human resources officer.”
“At the end of my life, will my successes be measured by the amount of money I have in the bank or the size of my house? Or will it be measured by the positive influence I had on the people around me,” Chipman said.