October 5, 2012 - U.S. Army Spc. Patrick Serna is a 23-year-old native of Corcoran, Calif., who is serving in eastern Afghanistan with B Battery 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, headquartered out of Bamberg, Germany. Serna enlisted as a cannon crewmember in 2011 and is on his first deployment to Afghanistan with the 173rd. Photo by Army Sgt. Michael Sword
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (10/19/201) – The reasons people join the military are often as varied as the individuals that are joining. For U.S. Army Spc. Patrick Serna, a machine gunner for B Battery, 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, there was only one reason he left his hometown, his son, Mason.
“He's my main reason for joining the Army,” said Serna, a native of Corcoran, Calif. “I knew that if I could join, I could pay bills, go to college and I'll be able to support him in the long run.”
When Serna, 23, walked into the recruiter's office to pick a military occupational specialty, what the Army calls their jobs, he was already leaning toward a job in combat arms.
“I had that mindset that ‘I need to go to the Army, be crazy and fight the war,' but, there were no infantry spots open,” he said. “So I picked this MOS because they shoot cannons and it sounds fun.”
As a cannon crewmember, Serna originally learned to be part of a team in charge of firing the battalion's large artillery pieces. However, here B Battery is in the role of a maneuver unit and he finds himself patrolling the mountains of Afghanistan's Wardak province, with the nearly 30 pound M240B machine gun in hand.
“'Embrace the suck' as they always say, but I'll do what I have to for all our guys to get back,” he said.
No matter what he's doing, Serna continues to enjoy it.
“I want to excel as much as I can in the Army and get what I can get out of it,” he said. “My recruiter told me, ‘If you're going to be combat arms, make sure you go to college,' so I'm going to do as much college as I can.”
Growing up, Serna moved up and down the west coast, so he's no stranger to being in a new location. But being so far from home, and especially his son, makes life in Afghanistan a little more difficult.
“It sucks being away from him now, but in the long run it will be better for us,” he said.
When he returns to Bamberg, Germany, the home of B Battery, Serna plans on reenlisting in the Army. He hopes to end up somewhere closer to home, but even if not, he plans on continuing his military career as a paratrooper.
“Probably my favorite thing about the Army is doing things you can't just do back home,” he said. “You can't jump out of planes anywhere else for free.”
By Army Sgt. Michael Sword
Provided through DVIDS
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