by U.S. Army National Guard Pfc. Jacob Hester-Heard
November 9, 2018
The middle of that Texan summer was as hot and dry as ever, the days bleeding into each other as the sun bleeds into the haze of the horizon there. With Fort Bliss and Fort Hood’s summer now half-a-world away to those deployed in Żagań, Poland, three Soldiers in particular recall their reactions to this, their first deployment.
“Actually we were out working, just in the motor pool, and a sergeant at the time comes up and says ‘Hey, we’re going…this is what we’re doing,’” said Army Pfc. Chase Q. Adams, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with Echo Company, 91st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
When Adams first heard whispers about the deployment, his automatic assumption was combat. As anyone who’s been around a deployment knows, nothing is certain until your boots are on the ground.
Army Pfc. Isaiah J. Howard, a utilities equipment repairer, who works alongside Adams, in Echo Company, 91st BEB, heard about the deployment during his advanced individual training. The rumors included Korea, Germany and Kuwait. Even when he found himself in Bolesławiec, Poland, Howard would soon end up approximately 60 kilometer northwest in Żagań.
Both Howard and Adams have been in Poland for approximately two months, but new faces arrive every day. Army Pvt. Yamile Amarante, a postal clerk with the 178th Human Resources Company, 16th Special Troops Battalion, 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade, 1st Armored Division, has been in country for approximately one week.
“When I first got here, it looked nothing like what I expected it to be,” said Amarante, though she remembers her leadership telling her Żagań would be much different than life in garrison.
“I was okay with it because, it’s Europe! Who doesn’t want to travel to Europe?” she said. “I think I’ll get used to it.”
The military base sits between two small towns: Żary and Żagań. Soldiers go into the towns almost daily and experience a different culture and cuisine as well as interact with people they never would have been able to meet otherwise.
“Poland is nice,” said Chase. “I like it.”
“I love the burger place in Żary ... it’s one of the best burgers I’ve ever had,” said Howard. “It’s like a taste of home.”
“Żagań is beautiful,” said Amarante. “And Żary is very nice too.”
The experiences these first-time deployers have here will be different from those of the colleagues and mentors who have done all of this before. However, it is experiences like these, and the wisdom they will gain as a result, that will help the now young and junior Soldiers mentor future Soldiers and shape the Army of tomorrow.