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)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Lauren Hyman of Texarkana, Texas, armored vehicle driver for the 64th Military Police Company based at Combat Oupost Fortress, says hello to an (click for more)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Taylor Gingrich, an infantry officer from Cedar Falls, Iowa, with Task Force Ironman, draws a smile from an Afghan boy as Gingrich (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Brian Stowe, a human resources specialist from Elkmont, Ala., with Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, sings a ballad he wrote and (click for more)
PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Servicemembers defend the wall after an improvised explosive device detonates on Forward Operating Base Lightning Dec. 5. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan and French military chiefs conduct a briefing before deployment during a security operation. Afghan National Security Forces and French Task Force Richelieu conducted Operation Montevideo (click for more)
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Phil Compton, Doty, Wash., Panjshir PRT engineer, and PRT local Afghan engineer Abid Wardak check the structural integrity of the retaining (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan family looks at their new family member after she was delivered by the Polish Army medical team at Forward Operating Base Warrior Jan. 3. (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, maneuver through Sabari District during patrols to disrupt insurgent activity in the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Fouste, Decatur, Ill., noncommissioned officer in charge of the Freedom Restoration Center with the 455th Expeditionary Wing, Task Force Med, plays with (click for more)
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.
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|Afghan forces, TF Bastogne continue operations in Sherzad District|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Bastogne, continued operations in the Sherzad District Jan. 8 clearing the village of Toto of insurgent fighters to reinforce a foundation of security in the area.
|TF Iron eliminates insurgent IED team|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers form Task Force Iron Rakkasan and members of the Afghan Uniformed police, using the Precision Threat Detection System blimp at Forward Operating Base Andar, identified a group of insurgents with weapons and explosives Jan. 3.
|TF Iron Rakkasan uses PTDS to prevent highway robbery|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Recently, Soldiers from Task Force Iron Rakkasan watched a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police conduct an illegal checkpoint on the route between Ghazni and Sharana. Using the camera system on the Persistent Threat Detection System, Soldiers observed a man standing in the road collecting money from vehicles. The practice is common by insurgents who fund their attacks by taking money from locals.
|Joint operation helps clear Sherzad of insurgent activity|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from Task Force Bastogne began operations in the Sherzad District Dec. 23.