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'Vanguard' Signal Soldier Fulfills Goal To Serve
by Army Staff Sgt. Elvis Umanzor - March 26, 2013

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FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Takisha S. Brock, 40, a signal support system specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is serving in Afghanistan after an opportunity was presented to her she couldn't pass up.

U.S. Army Spc. Takisha S. Brock, a signal support system specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is serving in Afghanistan providing combat network radio support to her brigade March 22, 2013, at Forward Operating Base Shank, Logar province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Elvis Umanzor)
U.S. Army Spc. Takisha S. Brock, a signal support system specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is serving in Afghanistan providing combat network radio support to her brigade March 22, 2013, at Forward Operating Base Shank, Logar province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Elvis Umanzor)

Brock, a Washington, N.C., native, said she always wanted to serve because three of her cousins served during Desert Storm. After graduating high school she planned to attend Queens University, N.C., on an athletic scholarship. Her plans soon changed, as months later, she had a son.

She quickly went from studying, to being a mom and working. Brock, the eldest and only female of three siblings, said her family has always shown her love and support in everything she's done, especially her parents.

“I admire my mother because she raised me to be a strong woman,” she said. The characteristics of a strong woman helped her raise her son, Dimetrio, who has autism and requires special care. It takes a lot of patience and adaptation to meet the challenges, she added.

As a single mom, Brock raised her son while she worked two jobs and went to college. She earned a bachelor's degree in health care management and obtained two other associate degrees.

As time passed, and while working two jobs in medical administration, the idea of serving her country looked more distant. One day, while she was at a grocery store, an Army recruiter approached her, thinking she was younger, Brock said.

After talking to the recruiter, Brock, then 38, realized her opportunity to serve was still available. The wait time to come in as an officer was 18 months, and if she didn't take the opportunity then, she wouldn't be in the Army now, due to the Army's maximum age of enlistment, she said.

In October 2010, she fulfilled her desire to serve as an enlisted member. She attended basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and then continued to advanced individual training at Fort Gordon, Ga., home of the Army Signal Corps.

Her first permanent duty station was with the Vanguard Brigade out of Fort Stewart, Ga., where she gained the trust of her leaders. She was awarded the Army Achievement Medal after her performance at the brigade's field exercise before their deployment. She was then selected to deploy early to help transition and setup communication systems in support of the brigade's mission in support of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

“I thought of her immediately to come over here and get us setup and established,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert J. Allen, the signal systems chief for the 4th IBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. “When I got here, everything was setup and running, and there weren't any issues. She is reliable and she's dependable.”

Although Brock's military career is bright, she said she faced some physical challenges at age 38.

“I wish I would have enlisted ten years earlier,” she said, but her earlier struggles helped her adapt. “You have to adapt; you are constantly meeting challenges and things that you have to ... overcome,” she said.

Being deployed, she now faces a bigger challenge, being away from her son for nine months. Now that her son is older and with the support of her family in N.C., she is able to serve. She also said it helps that she works with a good team who is very supportive.

“I've learned a lot about myself as a person; people have always told me that I have a strong character because of the things I've encountered in my life,” she said.

Brock is responsible for providing combat network radio support to the Vanguard Brigade which allows the brigade operations center to securely communicate with any subordinate unit, and maintains the equipment to ensure it stays functional.

Brock plans to re-enlist and work on her master's degree in business organization and business management.

By Army Staff Sgt. Elvis Umanzor
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2013

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