Monday, July 14, 2014

Face of Defense: Soldier Born in Senegal Returns for Exercise

Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 6:01 PM
"I actually enjoy doing my job" 
By Army Sgt. Takita Lawery
4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

Army Spc. Lassana Traore, right, translates during a conversation between Army Pfc. Cody Anderson, center, and a Senegalese soldier during exercise Western Accord 14 at Camp Thies, Senegal, June 25, 2014. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Takita Lawery 
THIES, Senegal, July 14, 2014 - After joining the U.S. Army two years ago, Spc. Lassana Traore, a food service specialist with 1st Infantry Division's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, couldn't have imagined he would find himself back in his native land of Senegal as an Army translator for Exercise Western Accord 14.
"It is a great learning experience for him to be serving his native country and the U.S. Army," Wingfield said. "I think he will gain a lot of knowledge from interacting with both nations simultaneously during the exercise."Staff Sgt. Murquitte Wingfield, food service noncommissioned officer in charge, Company E, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, said Traore's a "super soldier" who is always motivated to do more than what is asked or expected of him.
Traore grew-up in Pikine, a small city outside of Dakar, Senegal, with his parents, four brothers and three sisters. He graduated from Seydou Nourou Tall, a multigrade school, in 2000. Following an injury to his leg that stopped him from playing professional soccer, Traore said, he decided to travel to France to attend college and study business management.
He later traveled to Italy to help in running his father's fishing company, and it was there where he met his wife, who also serves in the Army.
Traore joined the Army in 2012, and chose to be a cook because choices were limited for him at the time.
"I actually enjoy doing my job," he added. "And now, I am happy to be here, because I can serve both my countries at the same time."
Traore's duties during the exercise were limited at first to the food service team. But things quickly changed when his unit hit the ground in Senegal. In addition to working in the dining facility, he soon was translating for various African nations throughout Camp Thies.
The 32-year-old said helping soldiers to overcome language barriers has been one of his favorite parts of Western Accord 14 was. Knowing he helped soldiers better comprehend the training they received so they could apply it to what they already knew was what he enjoyed most about the experience, he added.
Infantry parachutist Sgt. Birame Faye of the Senegalese army concurred.
"It is easier for us to understand Traore, rather than civilian translators, because he is in the U.S. Army and he knows how to explain their tactics better," Faye said.
Traore said he has appreciated playing a major role in the exercise and wants to continue serving in any way he can.
"I plan to retire out of the U.S. Army, because it's a great organization and it provides people with great opportunities to do whatever they put their minds to," he said.
Related Sites:
U.S. Army Africa
4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
U.S. Africa Command
Special Report: U.S. Africa Command

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Face of Defense: Father, Daughter Share Afghanistan Deployment

Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 6:59 PM
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez
455th Air Expeditionary Wing

Air Force Senior Airman Kimberly Buzzell, left, and her father, Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Trujillo, pose for a photograph at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 1, 2014. Both are assigned to Task Force Signal and deployed from the Air National Guard's 243rd Engineering Installation Squadron in South Portland, Maine. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez 
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AfghanistanJuly 8, 2014 - (AFPS):  The military becomes a tightly knit family for people who are away from home. Service members share many unique experiences, and when the time comes to deploy, they need "family" support that much more.
 For Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Trujillo and Air Force Senior Airman Kimberly Buzzell, the support network is available not only from their unit, but also each other, as this father and daughter share their first deployment together here.
Trujillo and Buzzell are both deployed from the Air National Guard's 243rd Engineering Installation Squadron in South Portland, Maine, and are natives of Turner, Maine.
Trujillo, a cable antenna team chief, has served for 26 years. Buzzell has been in the Air Force for five years and is a radio frequency transmissions technician. Both are deployed with Task Force Signal.
For them, the Air Force, deployments and moving always have been a normal way of life.
"My wife retired from active duty about nine years ago," Trujillo said. "We have traveled and lived everywhere, and now that my daughter is older, I think she appreciates the opportunities we had being a military family."
Five years ago while Trujillo was deployed to Afghanistan, Buzzell enlisted in the same unit as her father. Trujillo came home to the surprise that his daughter was in the Air Force and part of his unit.
"My dad had mentioned the military, and I always wanted to join," she said. "Other plans happened. I got married and had kids, so a few years later, I just decided to join."
Though he was surprised, Trujillo said, he was proud of his daughter.
"I never pushed her to join. I would have supported her in any decision she made," he added. "I always thought that the Air Force would be a good choice for her. I think the Air Force is very family oriented, and it helps give you an idea of what you want to do with your life."
While Buzzell was originally tasked to deploy, Trujillo was not. Because it was Buzzell's first deployment, her father volunteered to join her in Afghanistan.
"My mom originally did not want him to volunteer," Buzzell said. "But when she found out I was tasked, she immediately changed her mind and was telling my dad he 'had' to volunteer."
Trujillo said he wanted to volunteer because he didn't think an opportunity like this would come by again. He also wanted to make sure he was there for his daughter on her first deployment.
"I think it relaxed my wife a little more, because she knew I was going to be here with my daughter," he said. "I now realize I don't really need to be here for her. She is doing great and has a great attitude about being here."
Originally, Trujillo was tasked to go to Kandahar Airfield, but when the unit switched teams around, it allowed the two the opportunity to work together.
"We don't always work together every day, but we do get to spend time together," Trujillo said. "It is good to be apart sometimes. It keeps her dad from always being on her."
Buzzell said she enjoys having her dad around and likes to tell people she is here with him whenever she gets the chance.
"He is always sticking up for me, even though he doesn't have to," she said. "The experience of having him here is one that many people will not have. It will be something that [he] and I will always share and look back on."
Having been with the unit for a few years, Buzzell said, she has found it to be a close group, so even if her father wasn't here, she knows they would take care of her.
"None of them would replace my dad, of course, but most of the people from my unit are high school friends," she said. "The airmen also see him as a father figure, and we are just happy he is here."
Trujillo and Buzzell celebrated Father's Day last month with a 5K race and a lunch date.
"One thing I didn't think I was going to miss were hugs," Buzzell said. "My daughters at home hug me all the time, so the best thing about having my dad here is that I get to hug him whenever I need a hug."
Related Sites:
Air Forces Central