Army civilian ready for second deployment
May 28, 2010
- Kelly Longfellow leaves soon on second civilian tour in Afghanistan.
- First tour, in 2003, had her working, sleeping, eating and even showering in a tent. Things have changed.
During a time of war, most U.S. Soldiers will spend at least one tour in a combat zone serving their country. When a unit is called upon to deploy, the Soldiers within put their lives on hold and dutifully fill the needs of the Army.
On occasion, a civilian will voluntarily travel to a battle zone and help Soldiers do their jobs.
Kelly Longfellow is one of those civilians.
Longfellow is going to work with the Army Corps of Engineers as a project manager in Kabul, Afghanistan, for the next 12 months.
"I actually found the job listing on usajobs.com back in November," said Longfellow, Fort Sill Lean Six Sigma coordinator. "I've been hired to streamline processes there for the district. I am going to help move forward with strategic plans and make the decisions effective and efficient."
This will be Longfellow's second deployment as a DA civilian.
"The first time I deployed was in January 2003 with the Fort Worth district Corps of Engineers," added Longfellow. "I went with a team to Afghanistan. The conditions left me working in a tent, sleeping in a tent, eating in a tent and showering in a tent. The conditions have, of course, changed in the last seven years. But back then everything was in a tent. Totally roughing it. Last time I deployed I was the geographic information system analyst for all of Afghanistan. I went from FOB to FOB setting up their GIS.
Longfellow admitted she enjoyed deploying and could not guarantee that this would be her last time.
"Never say never," said Longfellow. "I remember watching 'The Breakfast Club' when I was 10-years-old. There is a scene where Ally Sheedy dumps out the contents of her purse and says, 'You never know when you might need all this stuff.' She mentioned that she could end up anywhere, naming a few different places around the world. One of the places was Afghanistan and I remember thinking, 'Ooooh, I want to go to Afghanistan!' And I ended up going there, twice. So you have to watch what you wish for. It just might happen."
For her first deployment, Longfellow was asked to volunteer.
"I went without a heartbeat," said Longfellow. "When a colonel came up to me and asked me to volunteer I couldn't say no."
Longfellow said her supportive family makes it easier to deploy.
"My dad is excited," she said. "He never saw wartime. He was in the service during a time of peace. So he is excited for me. My mom is nervous, of course. My sister and brother-in-law are very supportive as well. I have had a more overwhelming support this time. Lots of encouragement."
One thing that is making the decision to deploy easier for Longfellow is the return rights to her current job.
"I do have return rights back to Fort Sill," explained Longfellow. "I just may not have the same position, but I will have a position here."