Tabasum Sharqi (left) opens a book she received for graduating at the top of her Fatima Girls High School class at a ceremony held at the Kunar Department of Women’s (click for more)
Soldiers from the Polish Army and the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team-IV check their shot grouping during qualification on the Polish AK-74 5.56 mm Mini-Beryl short assault rifle Feb. (click for more)
U.S. Army Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, play an impromptu game of volleyball against a team (click for more)
Dr. Mehirulla Muslim, the Nurgaram District subgovernor, addresses an audience of teachers, government officials and citizens during a ceremony to celebrate a completed solar panel electricity project Feb. 21 in (click for more)
U.S. Army Spc. Raheem Stewart, an automations specialist with TF Phoenix, steps along the rafters of the building his team helped wire for communications. Stewart, from Dallas, was one of (click for more)
An Afghan National Army soldier from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Regiment, searches a pile of rocks in the courtyard of a high-value target home outside the village of (click for more)
U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battlewatch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin, helps an Afghan child with her writing skills during female engagement team training (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers move through Kharwar District to prevent the Taliban’s freedom of movement Feb. 12. U.S. and Afghan soldiers braved more than 3 feet (click for more)
Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II members, U.S. Army Spc. Justin Allen (left), a London, Ky., native, and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Combs, a Corbin, Ky., native, get to know a (click for more)
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The graveyard shift.
The shift despised by most requires waking while others are leaving work, working while others sleep and sleeping while the world moves through its normal hustle and bustle of the day. This is the shift with which U.S. Army 1st Lt. Gerry Holloway and his Soldiers of 2nd Platoon, Troop C, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Redhorse, are all too familiar.
The moon filled the sky with a bright, smoky haze dotted by a few stars as Holloway stepped out into the brisk night air at Combat Outpost Red Hill, also known as Pushtaysark, Jan. 19. The night skies are normally dotted with stars out here because there are no street or store lights shining. This scene is common for most combat outposts in Afghanistan.
“It’s a beautiful sight to wake up, step outside and see the stars every morning,” said Holloway, a father of five from Melbourn, Iowa. “Of course, our morning is everyone’s night time on our shift.”
Holloway and his crew consisting of infantrymen, a medic, and a cook who is one of the company’s two female engagement team members, rove and patrol the streets of the surrounding areas looking for insurgent activities and ensuring that the local people are safe throughout the night.
This mission is similar to those he did as a team leader when he deployed to Iraq in 2005 and 2006. He and his team of three conducted convoy security operations in the areas north of Baghdad when he was assigned as a noncommissioned officer in TF Redhorse, which is part of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls.
“Sometimes I miss being an NCO,” he said. “I miss the responsibilities of taking care of Soldiers and making sure missions get accomplished. I still ensure that missions get accomplished as an officer, but it’s different.”
His deep-rooted ties to the NCO corps is evident while on patrol and throughout operations, as Holloway ensures Soldiers have their sensitive items, take proper safety precautions and conduct other tasks for which NCOs are normally responsible.
“As a lieutenant, now I am responsible for developing the plan, and the NCOs in my platoon are in charge of carrying the plan out. Sometimes it’s hard to shut that ‘NCO’ side of me off,” he continued. “I really do try to not micromanage, but it’s hard.”
Holloway decided to try his luck as an officer in early 2007 and applied for a direct commission, which was accepted in October 2008. He said he loves being an officer and considers it one of the best decisions he’s ever made.
“The detailed levels of planning are what I enjoy about being an officer,” Holloway admitted. “I like to get into the nuts and bolts on how to accomplish a mission. As an NCO, I would get my orders and execute. I get to help build those orders now, and I make sure that my NCOs are following through with them.”
“It’s a huge step to transition from an NCO to an officer,” said U.S. Army Capt. Richard Rush, Troop C commander and Altoona, Iowa, resident who deployed with Holloway when he was an NCO as now as an officer. “I think he’s adapted well to the officer environment… It happens a lot when NCOs (transition) to officer, where they still like to operate as NCOs.”
The Soldiers enjoy Holloway’s leadership style.
“When I’m not out on mission, I’m helping out in the kitchen, or I find something to do to keep me busy,” said FET member U.S. Army Sgt. Stephanie Bliss, a Sioux City, Iowa, resident. “But, I like going along on missions. I love 2nd Plt. They are usually the ones to pull me in for missions… Lt. Holloway is not like a lot of officers who joined then became officers. He knows how to talk to Soldiers, and he’s very low-key. I like it.”
Whether as an NCO or as an officer, Holloway continues to take care of his Soldiers.
The night patrol came and went, like most nights he and the Soldiers of 2nd Plt. go out. As the sun began to rise, the troops headed to Bagram Airfield to conduct vehicle maintenance and get ready for the next mission. Holloway and his troops will be ready to own the night once again.
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