Spc. Sarah Bailey
4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan – Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the trials and tribulations women have endured on their path to equality in the United States. Growing up as a Persian-American, Pfc. Romina Hajy, a supply specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, has fought to prove herself, not only as a female, but as an American Soldier.
Hajy was born in Iran and moved with her parents and sister to Seattle when she was two-years-old. Shortly after moving to the U.S., her father worked primarily from London, leaving her mother to act as a single parent.
“My mother is, by far, my biggest role model,” Hajy said. “While my dad was working in Europe, she raised my sister and I as a single parent. She taught me how to be a strong female, and I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the lessons she taught me.”
As a 703rd BSB supply specialist, Hajy is quickly adapting to the demands of the position. “It’s hard and challenging, but that’s why I chose to join the Army—I wanted to be challenged,” she said.
Although Hajy has only been in the Army for seven months, she has quickly established a high standard of what it means to be a female serving in the Army. “In basic training we had one female drill sergeant and she set the tone for me,” Hajy said. She said Staff Sgt. Jessica Simpson, a drill sergeant with Battery B, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery Regiment, 434th Field Artillery Brigade from Fort Sill, Okla., inspired her to step up and go the extra mile to be successful in the Army. She would never forget the positive impact Simpson had on her Army career and will remember it years down the road.
As a Persian female serving in the U.S. Army, Hajy is proud to wear her uniform. “I wanted to serve my country, this country, because I know not many females in this world … get this opportunity, and I owe it to them to do my part,” Hajy said.
Staff Sgt. Elvis N. Umanzor
4th IBCT, 3rd Inv. Div. Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan – The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, uncased their colors during a transfer of authority ceremony on Forward Operating Base Shank, Logar Province, March 13.
The ceremony began with the playing of the Afghanistan and U.S. national anthems and the casing of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team’s colors by their command team, U.S. Army Col. Andrew Rohling and U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Coston.
After the 173rd’s command team cased their colors, U.S. Army Col. Kimo C. Gallahue, commander of 4th IBCT, 3rd Inf. Div., and U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Alan K. Hummel, the 4th IBCT command sergeant major, uncased their unit’s colors marking the transfer of responsibility for advising and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces in Logar and Wardak provinces from the 173rd, headquartered in Vicenza, Italy, to the ‘Vanguard Brigade.’ The 4th IBCT cased its colors at Fort Stewart, Ga. nearly a month ago as it prepared to deploy to Afghanistan.
Many distinguished guests were present including, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William C. Mayville, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-1, and Afghan Maj. Gen. Mohammed Sharif Yaftali, commander of the Afghan National Army’s 203rd Corps, who thanked the outgoing unit and welcomed the 4th IBCT.
Mayville highlighted the accomplishments of the ANA’s 4th Brigade, 203rd Corps and the 173rd ABCT’s many achievements and advancements in security, governance and development in Wardak and Logar provinces during the last nine months.
Mayville continued by addressing the Vanguard Brigade, known now as Task Force 4-3.
“To Vanguard, Col. Kimo Gallahue and the mighty Task Force 4-3, you have an important advisory mission in front of you, and in the next nine months you must increase the focus on achieving Afghan National Army and Afghan National Security Force self sufficiency,” he said. “I know you’ll continue to support our great Afghan partners as they take the lead for security of their communities, their province and their country.”
The ceremony concluded with the playing of “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” followed by refreshments and the welcoming of the 4th IBCT by ANSF and International Security Assistance Force leaders.
This is the Vanguard Brigade’s first deployment to Afghanistan. The brigade has three previous deployments to Iraq since their activation in 2004.
Staff Sgt. Elvis N. Umanzor
4th IBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. Public Affairs
Five hundred fifty Family Members from 3rd Infantry Division attended a Strong Bonds family retreat held, Oct. 19-21, in Hilton Head, S.C.
The marriage retreat was led by Maj. David K. Trogdon, the chaplain for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID, and Staff Sgt. Andre L. Gambrell, the chaplain assistant non-commissioned officer in charge for 4th IBCT.
The retreat included a marriage seminar video and sessions held by other contributing chaplains from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air Field. The sessions discussed communication, deployments, and Army programs that help Families.
Roxanne R. Walker, the 3rd ID chaplain’s wife, shared her experiences as a military wife and mother.
Walker, the president of the Fort Stewart Protestant Women of the Chapel, touched on how to talk with deployed spouses. She said, “Don’t lay everything on them, they worry too.” She understands the struggles families go through during deployments, and she encouraged the ladies to be strong during those moments, both in their faith and mentally.
For some couples, this was their first retreat. Private 1st Class Julian R. Espejo, a mortar man from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, and his wife Michelle found out about the retreat through their battalion chaplain’s assistant.
They said, “We have pages of notes and definitely enjoyed it.” Mrs. Espejo said she really enjoyed the five love language quiz. “I found out he likes quality time more than affection.” This is the first marriage retreat for the couple, who have been married for eight months.
For other couples, this was not their first retreat, but look forward to these types of experiences offered by the chaplain’s office.
2nd Lt. Christopher L. Ortiz, a support platoon leader with HHC, 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th IBCT, said, “My chaplain called me and asked if I wanted to come; it’s nice to have a chaplain that thinks of you.”
Lymarie Valle, Ortiz’s wife, said, “This is going to be our first deployment and I felt the seminar answered many questions.” They both agreed that talking about deployment and finding out about many family resources was what they really enjoyed from the seminar. Ortiz said at the last marriage seminar, they were just shown a video.
Before the marriage seminar was over, Capt. Michael W. Bradford, the chaplain for 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th IBCT, surprised his wife, Panoh Bradford, by renewing their vows in front of the 200 Families at the seminar.
The Bradfords have been married for 29 years, but Capt. Bradford is slated to deploy during their 30th wedding anniversary, said Chaplain Trogdon.
Chaplain Bradford, of Huntsville, Ala., said, “I kept it a secret from her; she asked why she needed a new dress.”
Mrs. Bradford, a native of Thailand, has been to many family retreats as a chaplain’s wife, but didn’t expect this. With a smile on her face, she said, “He surprised me with what he did.”
After the seminar and vow renewal, Families were released to enjoy the rest of their two night stay at the beach-front resort. All meals were included for the length of the stay, and free child care was provided for children of all ages.
Gambrell, a Philadelphia, Pa., native , said, “In the past we’ve had limited funds, but the Army and the Chief of Chaplains Office realized that Strong Bonds retreats reduce stress and are a factor in helping Families and in reducing suicides…we have unlimited funds now.” “It was phenomenal”, he added.
The next Strong Bonds retreat is slated for December; see your local chaplain’s office for more details.