Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for November 9, 2009 - Sgt. Francisco N. Aponte

Sergeant Francisco N. Aponte

Current Unit: 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Headquarter and Headquarter Company
Current Position: Supply Sergeant Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Kandahar, Afghanistan
Hometown: Orlando, Fla.
Years of Service: 6

When Sgt. Francisco Aponte arrived in Kandahar, Afghanistan back in February, his command quickly recognized the leadership potential of the young Soldier. Taking advantage of the 23-year-old's hard-charging attitude, they continually challenged him with new roles and responsibilities in areas he had little training in. Originally trained to serve as a transportation management coordinator, the young reservist is now serving at the supply Noncommissioned Officer-in-charge (NCOIC) for the 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC), Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC).

"Supply supports every aspect of our entire mission here in Afghanistan," Aponte said. "Knowing that Soldiers depend on you and your team to accomplish their mission pushes my team and I to fulfill all requisitions."

"Without the proper equipment, you can only hope the job gets done," continued Aponte. "Our Army doesn't work on hope. It works on knowledge and effectiveness. Supply sergeants and supply clerks will always be an essential part of every mission, no matter the time or place."

A second generation Soldier, both Aponte's mother and father participated in the University of Puerto Rico's ROTC program. His father accepted his commission and became a 1st Lt. with the Calvary. The younger Aponte is proud of his father's service and of his own role in supporting a variety of Army missions.

"This deployment has been a great learning experience," Aponte said." Not only gaining knowledge of the different positions I've held, but the immense amount of knowledge each Soldier can gain from all the experiences of prior-deployed counterparts of our great Armed Forces."

"I was shocked to see a completely diverse NATO base run in such unison. Fifteen-plus nations fighting alongside with our Armed Forces all with the same goal, to secure a future for the people of Afghanistan," he finished.

When Aponte first arrived in Kandahar, he was shocked by another vision — a fully-functioning hockey rink. It was a welcome surprise for the young NCO who has played hockey for eight years on both high school and college teams.

"You never thought you'd come to a desert and find a hockey team," Aponte said.

Playing as part of the Kandahar Hawks, Aponte had the opportunity to play against former National Hockey League players who were visiting Kandahar Airfield along with the Stanley Cup on a morale trip for troops.

Aponte will return home to Orlando at the end of the year, where he will resume his studies at the University of Central Florida studying Hospitality Management.

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