Thursday, September 25, 2008

Face of Defense: Father and Daughter Train Together for Iraq Deployment

By Spc. Elizabeth Gorenc
American Forces Press Service

BUTLERVILLE, Ind., Sept. 25, 2008 – Overseas deployments usually call upon soldiers to temporarily leave loved ones behind. But, here, two members of the Hempstead family are preparing to mobilize together.

First Sgt. Bob Hempstead and his daughter, Pfc. Crystal Hempstead, members of the Indiana National Guard’s 1313th Engineer Company based on Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, Ind., are scheduled to deploy to Iraq in early 2009. They are conducting pre-mobilization training with their unit at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, or MUTC, here in South Central Indiana.

Wanting to gain overseas experience, Crystal Hempstead said she transferred into the unit and volunteered for the upcoming deployment. The fact that her father would be her first sergeant had no bearing on her decision to join the unit, she said.

“I knew there was a war going on when I made the choice to enlist,” she said. “I also wanted to deploy right after Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training to gain experience to be a better soldier. So joining this unit and deploying with them seemed like the perfect option.”

Training and working together in the same environment at MUTC is nothing new to the Hempsteads. Bob is the senior operations noncommissioned officer at the training center, while Crystal also works at the center as the administrative assistant for Col. Chris Kelsey.

Their experiences working together in a military environment prevented them from walking blindly into training together, Bob said.

“We had a talk before we came here about keeping our family life and military life separate,” he said. “As first sergeant, I have 180 soldiers and it’s important to treat everyone equally and be professional.”

Even though the Hempsteads train together, they rarely see each other due to their busy schedules.

“Training has been great so far and troop morale is really high,” Crystal Hempstead said. “Not only is it fun, but it’s great to know that you can complete something like clearing houses and know that your buddy has your back.”

The engineer company is the first unit group to conduct pre-mobilization training at center, Bob Hempstead said.

“It was pretty easy to set up training at MUTC for our unit since I work with operations here,” he said. “We hope to set the way for other units to eventually complete pre-mobilization training through here.”

Training consisted of land navigation, bomb detection, military operations on urban terrain, and driver’s training and combatives.

The second portion of the company’s training is scheduled to take place at Camp Atterbury. There, they will conduct weapons qualifications and range skills training.

Both Hempsteads said that the overall unit cohesion, high morale and skills honed at MUTC transfers through the rest of their training and deployment.

(Spc. Elizabeth Gorenc is assigned to Camp Atterbury Public Affairs.)

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