Renewing commitment 350 feet above Port-au-Prince
April 25, 2010
- On April 24, a U.S. Army South Soldier took advantage of her deployment to Haiti to conduct her reenlistment on a UH-60 Blackhawk 350 feet above Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - As the engines of the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter were fired up and the crew chief finished his safety briefing, one of the passengers on this mission was particularly anxious as she was boarding the aircraft to complete her first reenlistment in the U.S. Army.
On April 24, Spc. Sarah Lystra, administration specialist, U.S. Army South, took advantage of her deployment to Haiti to conduct her reenlistment ceremony while flying 350 feet above Port-au-Prince, Haiti on a helicopter from the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment deployed from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.
"At first I wasn't going to reenlist but after weighing all of my options this was the best decision for me and my family," Lystra said. "Since I made that decision, I wanted my first re-enlistment to be a unique and memorable experience." Not only was this event a memorable experience for Lystra, it also was unique to Capt. Christopher Feliciano, political military analyst, U.S. Army South and reenlistment officer for her ceremony.
"It is always an honor to have a Soldier request you as their reenlistment officer and this is my first time to administer the oath during a deployment and also on a Blackhawk," Feliciano said. "This unique reenlistment not only boosted her morale, but it boosted mine as well."
Coming from a joint service family with her father and brother serving in the U.S. Navy and her husband in the U.S. Air Force, it seemed fitting that Lystra reenlisted during her deployment in a joint environment with Joint Task Force-Haiti supporting Operation Unified Response. While she says the different branch of service jokes are plentiful among her family members, they still support her choice of service to the United States.
"We are a military family and we are all proud of each other's service," said Lystra.
After Lystra reaffirmed her commitment to the U.S. Army for three years at 350 feet over Port-au-Prince, Haiti, she was afforded the opportunity to take in a bird's eye perspective of the contrasting views of Haiti from the devastation caused by the earthquake within the city to the serene beaches and pristine waters off of the island nation's coast line.
While Lystra stated that she is excited about her future military career, she's already thinking about how to conduct her next reenlistment ceremony. "I'll have to come up with another way to top this one... It will be hard," Lystra said. "I think it's important that Soldiers make their reenlistment memorable, because it's an important and personal commitment that shouldn't be taken lightly."