noncommissioned officer

I am very proud of my service for our country. I have served selflessly for nearly 9 years. I want to continue to do so, but i also want to be open with who I am. I’m not sure if this is entirely possible. 

Once I come out, I won’t be a Staff Sergeant anymore. I’ll be the “gay Staff Sergeant”

I don’t want that. I just want to stand out for my work. Not for the gender of who I love.

This is the real issue I have with coming out. 

At the end of the day I don’t, and encourage everyone else to not give a Damn of what people think about you. 

But, I want people to judge me. Not my sexuality. 

…Manila Would Do” by Keith Rocco

“The 37th Division landed at Lingayan Gulf, on the Philippine Island of Luzon, January 9, 1945, and after almost a month of fighting took part in the assault of Manila, entering the city on the 4th of February. The soldiers of the 37th Infantry Division secured the Old Bilbad Prison freeing 1330 civilian internees and military prisoners of war. They made an assault crossing of the Pasig River, cleared the Paco neighborhood, and reduced the Intramuros fortress. The Japanese fortified buildings with skill and the larger reinforced concrete buildings became major obstacles to the men of the 37th. Casualties mounted. The Japanese held not only the access to the buildings, but also fought from inside the buildings themselves, forcing the 37th to fight not only block by block or building by building, but floor by floor and room by room. This was the kind of fighting that placed a premium on good leadership at squad and platoon levels. Many junior officers and noncommissioned officers led by example. 

“A squad leader in the 148th Infantry was the object of a bayonet charge by six Japanese soldiers who charged from approximately 30 yards away. Sergeant Billy E. Vinson warded off the first Japanese soldier’s bayonet thrust, then dispatched the assault group with one long burst from his Browning Automatic Rifle. He held his forward position until all wounded soldiers in the vicinitiy could be evacuated. After weeks of hard fighting, Manila was secured on the 2nd of March, 1945.”

(National Guard)

Had an interesting conversation with my new NCOIC today. We were discussing the firearm legislation which did not get passed we he brought up the no-fly list. He stated that people on the no-fly list should not be able to purchase a firearm.

After admitting that he did not know how people were added to the list, he stood by his original claim. I had to remind him that he, like all of us in the office, took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. And that what he was suggesting was in violation of multiple Amendments.

It shouldn’t, but it does still shock me when senior Noncommissioned Officers do not know and understand the Constitution. I encourage all Service Members to read the Constitution and to understand it. You cannot support and defend the Constitution if you don’t know what is in it.

This cover has been all over the world with me. It’s shared some of my best and worst days, and even though its showing its age, I can’t seem to allow myself to “retire” it. The army is getting new uniforms, so this cover has its days numbered… This may be our last adventure


SOLDIER STORIES: Silver wings in her blood.

First Sgt. Sandrea Cruz conducts a Jumpmaster Personnel Inspection on a soldier, preparing him for a static-line parachute jump from an aircraft. Cruz leads over 150 soldiers as the first sergeant for the the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)’s Sustainment and Distribution Company. Cruz is inspired by her father, a former Green Beret who served in both the 7th and 3rd Special Forces Groups.

(Photos by Staff Sergeant Bryan Henson, 30 MAR 2015. Article by Captain Thomas Cieslak, 1 APR 2015.)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - “Master your trade and never, never, never quit! Enough motivation, persistence and willpower will get you through everything,” is the advice 1st Sgt. Sandrea Cruz gives to those seeking her mentorship.

Cruz serves as the first sergeant of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Group Support Battalion’s Sustainment and Distribution Company. As the company’s senior noncommissioned officer, she is responsible for leading over 150 men and women specializing in logistics and supply operations in support of the group’s training and missions.

A sense of patriotism and love of country motivated Cruz to enlist in the Army after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Prior to her enlistment, Cruz was no stranger to the military. Born on Fort Stewart, Georgia, and raised in a military family, she fully understands the stress service in the Army places on the spouse and children of a soldier. Her father, a Green Beret who served in both the 7th and 3rd Special Forces Groups, drives her to excel in her daily duties.

“My father is the epitome of what a soldier truly represents, both on and off duty. Even though he has since retired, he is one of the most disciplined and intelligent people I know,” says Cruz about her father, who remains her most trusted mentor and hero. “I said if there was anyone I could emulate, it would be him because there was nothing that was unobtainable or out of reach to him in the military.”

“I am blessed to have my father there for me all my life; he has taught me so much. I am grateful for his guidance and his mentorship,” continued Cruz. “His performance and accomplishments in the military leave me humbled as I am reminded that persistence and hard work pays.”

Her most challenging assignment was her second duty assignment in Camp Hialeah, Pusan, Korea with the 4th Quartermaster Detachment (Airborne). As a newly-promoted sergeant with a little over two years in the Army, Cruz served as the company supply sergeant and the unit’s armorer, ammunition manager and assisted in the company’s orderly room. A demanding workload, coupled with her responsibility to lead U.S. and Korean soldiers, was her introduction to the Army’s Noncommissioned Officer Corps and what Cruz credits for developing her into the leader she is today.

She remembers Sgt. 1st Class Celia Gonzalez as a significant influence in her early career. Gonzalez, a parachute rigger by trade and the first Hispanic female Golden Knight, was Cruz’s platoon sergeant while stationed in Korea. Though not a qualified parachutist at the time, Cruz was given the opportunity to get on a C-130 aircraft and observe Gonzalez performing duties as a primary jumpmaster.

“There was something quite thrilling and inspirational about watching her rake static lines and move parachutists out of the aircraft,” said Cruz. “This motivated me to not only go to Airborne School, but eventually become a jumpmaster myself, which I never planned to do.”

Selected in late 2014 to lead soldiers as a first sergeant in the 7th SFG(A), Cruz is one of two women in the Group serving as the senior NCO in a company, with another leading troops in the GSB’s headquarters element. She routinely performs duties as a jump master, working hard to instill confidence into soldiers anxious about the inherent dangers of airborne operations. Her husband also serves in the Army as a Green Beret. As a Special Forces soldier in 7th Group, he leads and trains Special Forces soldiers, preparing them for deployments to austere locations far away from logistics lines.

More than 13 years has passed since Cruz enlisted, and she has been a first-hand witness to the numerous cultural changes the Army has undergone. Women, she says, have a lot more opportunities in the military than when she joined. Women are now serving in assignments previously closed to them, she continued, giving them more prominent leadership roles in the contemporary force.

“The Army is an easy business,” Cruz advises younger women under her leadership. “You will get from it what you put into it.”