Recognizing Women's History Month: 3/69 Soldier is Soldier first, woman second
March 24, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - As Women's History Month winds down, we are reminded not only of prominent women of the past, but women of the present who embody the attributes of those women.
Sergeant Mary Katzenberger, a heavy vehicle operator in 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, would be the last person to tell you she has done anything special, but as a Soldier in the Army she is continuing down a path paved for her by great women of the past.
Born at Fort Bragg, NC, she moved two years later when her father retired from the Special Forces.
"I've wanted to join the Army for as long as I can remember," she said, "If my mom wasn't dressing me up as a flower pot or a scarecrow at Halloween, I was dressing up as a Soldier."
By the time she graduated high school, she was ready to make her childhood dream a reality.
"I worked for a few years, of course the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were going on, so I needed to get in the action," said Sgt. Katzenberger.
When she went to her nearest Military Entrance Processing Station, she didn't know what Military Occupational Specialty she would commit to.
"The MEPS employee pulled up truck driver and showed me a video of trucks driving through the mud. They said if I signed up to go to Fort Stewart, which is a rapidly deploying unit, I would get a little extra money and I said sure."
Sergeant Katzenberger made it to Fort Stewart in March 2007, attached to the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team. She deployed with the brigade in December of 2007 to Ramadi as a Mayor Cell assistant.
"That deployment was a great experience in a lot of respects; there were difficult things you had to face. I didn't really see too much that would give me adverse long-term effects. The most significant thing that we were able to do as females in Ramadi was the Lioness Program, which is female Soldiers searching female civilians outside of the entry control points to the city. We searched Iraqi females coming in to make sure they weren't bringing in weapons or suicide vests."
However, the greatest parts about the deployment for Katzenberger were the changes she witnessed firsthand.
"What was remarkable about the program was that we saw changes while we were there. The women of Iraq actually took over the Lioness Program. I do feel like I made a difference, not a huge difference, but I think that the most important thing that we can provide out there if you're not kicking in doors or catching terrorists is passing on the goodwill of the United States."
Her second deployment was also with the 1HBCT, from December 2009 to December 2010. However, her roles had changed from the last deployment.
"I started off as an admin assistant for the second deployment with brigade command group and I got to travel around with the deputy commander. He was in charge of the reconstruction projects, so we got to go and meet a lot of Iraqis that were spearheading projects. Then I got transferred to HHC, 3/69 Armor, and got to experience a joint-security station. I ran flight operations."
Sergeant Katzenberger continued to say that her second job was as the noncommissioned officer in charge for catastrophic recovery, which involved getting trained on the Heavy Equipment Transport System. "We worked with a quick response force from A Co., 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment. We had two teams that rotated weekly for catastrophic recovery; if they needed us, we rolled out with the QRF. I did one recovery and it seemed like the other team did a lot more. It was hard going out being that it was an E Co. vehicle, which is the company my husband is in, and I know a lot of people through him."
For her, being a Soldier is universal, whether the Soldier is a male or female.
"I don't think about being a female in the Army too often," said Sgt. Katzenberger. "I think more about being a Soldier in the Army. I think we are to that point with most Soldiers and leaders seeing us as Soldiers first and women second."
As Women's History Month draws to a close, the installation has held observances to recognize great women in our past. However, the observances don't have to be the only time to recognize these women. They are the people that helped build our country and change the world for the better.
"To me Women's History Month is not about feminism or equality," said Sgt. Katzenberger, "But recognizing the contributions of some very fantastic women that have led to changes in this country."