KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Inspiration and motivation can
come from anywhere and motivate anyone to do something great.
For Sgt. Sharmella Andrews, that inspiration comes from her
strong belief in Family, her faith, and her patriotism for service
in the U.S. Army.
Andrews is the logistics and supply
noncommissioned officer in charge of Detachment 33, 335th Signal
Command, Theater Provisional, currently serving at Regional Command
(South), Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Sgt. Sharmella Andrews, the logistics and supply noncommissioned
officer in charge of Detachment 33, 335th Signal Command, Theater
Provisional, of East Point, Ga., receives recognition for her hard
work in bringing the “Tunnel to Towers” foundation to the boardwalk
at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2013. Tunnel to Towers
is a non-profit organization that raises funds to build smart homes
for firefighters and disabled members of the armed forces. (U.S.
Army photo by Cpl. Clay Beyersdorfer)
The combination of the motivated her over the last couple
of months to organize a large-scale event at KAF in
remembrance of the victims and their Families of the Sept.
11, 2001, attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade
Center. “Tunnel to Towers,” a foundation that benefits the
Families of policemen, firefighters and armed forces who
have been seriously injured or sacrificed their lives in the
line of duty, organizes five kilometer runs/walks around the
U.S., held the first Tunnel to Towers run at KAF on Sept.
14, thanks to the efforts and determination from Andrews.
“When I first got here a couple months ago, I wanted to
organize a run, but I wanted it to be meaningful and benefit
somebody,” Andrews said. “I did some research, found this
foundation and was so moved. I knew right then I had found
Andrews, a Rowlett, Texas, native has been
working since early June to coordinate and bring Tunnel to
Towers to KAF.
The Tunnel to Towers foundation was
established after the events of 9/11 and the story of
Stephen Siller, a firefighter who had just gotten off the
night shift in Brooklyn the morning of the attacks. Siller
heard over his scanner when the first plane hit the Twin
Towers, and immediately rushed back to the station for his
gear to go out and help those in need.
it to the site of the attacks, Siller was blocked by traffic
on the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Siller jumped out of his
truck with 60 pounds of gear and ran through the tunnel to
meet up with his company who provided support at the Twin
Siller lost his life that day working to save the
lives of so many others, and after reading about his story,
Andrews became so moved that she “was willing to do anything
it took to help out the cause,” she said.
was able to bring the Tunnels to Towers foundation to KAF,
she faced adversity, but never quit on herself or the cause.
“I had a lot of people tell me this would never happen and
that I should give up,” she said. “That just made me work 10
Major Adam L. Anderson, the projects
and retrograde operations officer in charge for the 335th
Signal Command, talked about how Andrews overcame adversity
and the amount of work she has put in over the last couple
“She got a lot of things thrown at her
during this whole process, had a lot of people tell her it
wasn't going to happen, but she took that and used it to
motivate herself,” Anderson said. “We've offered to help her
as much as we can, and I am so very proud of her for
overcoming all the obstacles it took to get to this point.
Look at where this is all at now.”
her father, a Vietnam veteran who passed away four years
ago, as a major source of inspiration, especially when she
decided to join the Army at the age of 38.
already knew what I was going to say when I called him; he
had heard the news,” Andrews said. “He was always supportive
of me and I was glad that he was able to see me graduate
basic and advanced individual training before he passed on.”
Within the last year, Andrews volunteered for this
deployment and had to work with a completely new group of
Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Koc, the
communications integrator officer in charge for RC(S) and
RC(W), spoke of Andrews' patriotism and selfless service to
“She is one of the most motivated NCOs I
have ever seen,” Koc said. “For her to come over, completely
learn a new skill set, and do the job of a senior NCO... is
just amazing to me. She is definitely a hard-charger.”
Andrews has passed that motivation and passion to work
hard on to her two sons.
Her oldest son is a Army
ROTC cadet at Prairie A&M University in Prairie View, Texas,
and has dreams of attending dental school.
“They both are
very motivated boys and I am so proud of them,” Andrews
After the last runner crossed the finish line
Saturday, it was hard for Andrews not to get emotional.
“It's been such a busy couple of months, and after
everything I've gone through to get to this point, I can't
describe the feeling I have knowing what I've accomplished,”
Andrews' strength and dedication are a
mirror image of her belief in faith, family, and service.
By U.S. Army Cpl. Clay Beyersdorfer
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