Red Bulls patrol area around COP Najil

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Merchant, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman from Dysart, Iowa, hands out cards Dec. (click for more)

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PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alana Ingram, a native of Las Vegas, a broadcaster with American Forces Network Afghanistan based at Bagram Airfield, prepares to interview U.S. Army Spc. Timothy Black, a native of Orem, Utah, a paramedic in the advanced trauma life support section of the 934th Forward Surgical Team, at Forward Operating Base Sharana Sept. 18. Ingram is completing her second six-month combat deployment, her first was to AFN-Iraq in 2007. She will soon leave the military to pursue degrees in literature and history in order to teach those subjects at the high school level. Ingram is deployed from Royal Air Force Base Feltwell, United Kingdom. (Photo by U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Mark Lazane, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alana Ingram, a native of Las Vegas and a broadcaster for American Forces Network Afghanistan, based at Bagram Airfield, isn’t afraid to let her voice be heard.

She better not be. It’s her job.

Ingram, a broadcast producer deployed from AFN at Royal Air Force Base Feltwell in the United Kingdom, is in the twilight days of her second deployment.

Assertiveness is something that was ingrained in Ingram throughout her childhood, most notably by her mother.

“My mom was my rock growing up,” said Ingram. “She taught me to be strong, independent and outspoken. I use every single one of those things every day in the Air Force. The strength my mom had when she was raising me is something I’ve always looked up to, and it’s something I’ve tried to emulate as much as I can as an adult.”

Besides her mother, there are other key influencers who helped make Ingram the person she is today.

“My grandfather, a U.S. Army Korean War veteran, is someone I definitely looked up to growing up,” said Ingram. “I never felt pressured that I had any sort of family legacy to carry on, but I always knew I wanted to do something that would make him proud, and this is it. But that’s not the only reason I joined the Air Force. I wanted to do something bigger than what the majority of those around me were doing after we graduated high school.”

It would only be natural for any family to be apprehensive about letting their daughter run off and join the military at 18 years old, but if Ingram’s family felt that way, they never showed it, said Ingram.

“When I decided to join the Air Force back in 2001, my parents were immensely proud and very supportive,” said Ingram. “They just wanted me to do something that would make me happy. I think they’ve always been, my mom especially, a little saddened that I wasn’t at home, but that doesn’t stop them from supporting me as much as they can throughout my career.”

Little did she know, nine and a half years later, that her decision to join would take her to several different countries and give her incalculable experiences to carry on throughout her life.

Two of those countries she’s been able to visit are Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There have been so many things I’ve been able to accomplish over the past nine and a half years that I’m proud of,” said Ingram.
 
"My two combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, however, stand out for me. We all think we’re strong people, that we can handle all things that come our way, but you sometimes don’t get a chance to find out. I think I came out of my first deployment, and I will come out of this deployment, a much stronger person and much more sure of myself. I’ll always be proud I was able to serve my country in wartime.”

Even though Ingram cherishes the experiences and lessons she has had over the past decade, a new chapter is about to unfold in her life and the life of her daughter.

Early next year, Ingram will be leaving the Air Force after 10 years of active-duty service and will pursue another passion and family pastime: teaching.

Her plan is to complete her college education and eventually teach high school History and English.

“Leaving the military will be hard, but I’m grateful that being in the military has given me some great tools I’ll use my whole life, especially when I become a teacher,” said Ingram. “The Air Force has given me some really valuable people-skills, especially this particular job, as I’ve had the opportunity to train a lot of broadcasters. I think that will help me when I eventually transition into a classroom environment, and I have to deal with several students at once, each with differing personalities, and get results from them.”

Ingram learned another lesson from her mother early in life that has guided her decision making.

“I learned early on to stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone,” said Ingram.”It’s always given me a moral ground and guide to focus on. My mom always wanted me to be my own person, and I think that really helped push me to be independent, and I’m thankful for that lesson.”

Fitting for a literature major, Ingram is perhaps most influenced by the example of Elizabeth Bennett, the fictional main character in Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice.

“The strength and perseverance her character displays throughout the book is absolutely amazing,” said Ingram. “When all is said and done, the amount of strength she shows, her incredible ability to reevaluate both herself and her situation to realize that maybe she was wrong; I think that’s an amazing quality everyone should have, and that I hope to always apply in my life, regardless of the circumstances.”

Ever the instructor, Ingram has words of advice for those coming into the military today.

“No matter how long you’re in, whether it’s two weeks or 20 years, everything will change with time,” said Ingram. “But rest assured; what you do while you’re in the military will define you forever. Your experience in the military will change you, so let it change you for the better.”

And, of course, always make sure your voice is heard.PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alana Ingram, a native of Las Vegas, a broadcaster with American Forces Network Afghanistan based at Bagram Airfield, interviews U.S. Army Spc. Aaron Franklin, a native of Greenville, S.C, during taping for a personality feature at Forward Operating Base Sharana Sept. 18. Ingram, a 9-year Air Force veteran, is completing her second six-month combat deployment, her first was to AFN-Iraq in 2007. Ingram will soon leave the military to pursue degrees in literature and history in order to teach those subjects at the high school level. Ingram is deployed from Royal Air Force Base Feltwell, United Kingdom. (Photo by U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Mark Lazane, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 October 2010 22:14
 

    

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