'Long Knife' Soldier helps maintain brigade's fighting strength
February 14, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq - Spc. Nyan Prater takes extra pride ensuring his fellow Soldiers stay healthy, keeping his comrades mission ready as they advise, train and assist their Iraqi counterparts.
Joining the Army two years ago, Prater, a preventive medicine specialist assigned to Company C, 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, is deployed in support of Operation New Dawn as part of U.S. Division-North.
The native of San Diego works closely with his officer counterpart to assess and eliminate potential health threats. His work also benefits U.S. Soldiers, Iraqi Security Forces and Department of Defense employees.
"I really love my job," said Prater. "Taking the necessary steps to prevent issues before they happen keeps them more manageable if they do happen ..."
Since arriving in Iraq in September of 2010, Prater has participated in more than 50 patrols to various checkpoints and joint security stations in the brigade's area of responsibility to prevent and control the spread of disease.
"Spc. Prater is an excellent Soldier," said 1st Lt. Dixon Irizarry, the brigade's environmental science officer assigned to Company C, 27th BSB, 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div.
"He is like a sponge. He is always willing to learn something different and works hard to be the best that he can be," said Irizarry, a native of Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico.
Fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of three unfilled positions in his company, to include two junior enlisted Soldiers and a noncommissioned officer, Prater successfully completes all of the tasks given to him, said Irizarry.
Experiencing many nights with limited sleep, Prater continues to do his job with great motivation knowing that his work is vital to the health of those around him.
"He truly makes a difference in maintaining our fighting strength," said Capt. Arthur Knight, commander, Company C, 27th BSB, 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div. "He finds the issue and resolves it-he knows what he's doing,"
"He has helped to correct many of the issues that can cause illnesses," said Knight, a New York native. "I have a lot of respect for what he does."
Prater also works with Iraqi Army soldiers, teaching fundamentals of preventive medicine and helping to improve the Iraqis' quality of living.
"If we do a good job, we can save someone's life," Prater said. "If we can impart a little knowledge to our Iraqi counterparts as to what we do and how to do it, it will improve their quality of life and prevent diseases."
Prater said he joined the Army with his wife as a stepping stone to something greater.
"My ultimate goal is to go to law school," said Prater, who is currently working towards his doctorate in Public Health. "Being in the Army helps me to propel myself in the field that I'm working in, and at the same time, gain more experience."
Upon completing his doctorate degree, Prater said he plans to become a commissioned officer and continue his military career.