Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for July 25, 2011 - 2nd Lt. William Garner

Second Lieutenant William Garner

Current Unit: 228th Theatre Tactical Signal Brigade
Current Position: Brigade Strength Manager
Component: National Guard
Current Location: Bagram, Afghanistan
Hometown: Greenville, S.C.
Years of Service: 1

The Army takes the accountability and safety of its Soldiers seriously, especially when they are serving overseas in some of the most dangerous places in the world. It takes diligence and careful planning to manage the whereabouts and wellbeing of all our men and women who serve. As part of the 228th Theatre Tactical Signal Brigade stationed at Bagram, Afghanistan, 2nd Lt. William Garner is keenly aware of what it means to be responsible for tracking the Soldiers in his brigade and assisting them with personnel issues.

“From the lowest level to the highest, one of the most important tasks for any commander is accountability of his or her Soldiers,” explains Garner. “My job is to make sure our commander knows exactly how many Soldiers he has and where they are, so he can make the best decisions he can concerning movement and tasking of personnel.”

As Brigade Strength Manager, Garner also ensures swift processing of Red Cross Messages that are meant for his comrades in arms.

“A Red Cross Message is a message that a family member can give to the American Red Cross, and they will make sure the Soldier receives it,” he explains. “Many of these messages inform the Soldier of emergencies at home, and especially for Soldiers on outlying bases, this is the quickest way for the family to notify the Soldier.”

In addition to those messages, Gardner is in charge of fielding Emergency Leave and Release From Active Duty (REFRAD) packets. Once he receives the paperwork, Gardner makes sure it is filled out correctly and secures approval from brigade leadership. In the case of emergency leave, he also verifies that the Soldier has funding to get home.

“Without the proper paperwork, a Soldier could get stuck at the terminal and in the case of emergency leave, getting home quickly is critical,” he said.

Garner has had many gratifying experiences during his deployment, but for him, the most rewarding aspect is working solely for his fellow Soldiers.

“When there is an emergency at home, I make sure the Soldier is able to be there. If there is a problem with their record, I help them fix it,” he said. “And when it is time for a Soldier to get promoted, I make sure that Soldier is taken care of.”

While his position in the Army can be demanding at times, the most challenging part of his deployment is being far away from family and friends. But not all of Gardner’s family is back in the states. His father is a contractor currently working and traveling throughout Afghanistan. The senior Gardner drops by to catch up with his son when he passes through Bagram.

“It is a little piece of home here in Afghanistan,” said the Soldier. "When we get the chance to hang out, I get to stop being 2nd Lt. William Garner and my dad gets to stop being William Garner the contractor. For at least a little while we are just Will and his son Franklin.”

Garner is scheduled to return to the states in early 2012 and looks forward to spending time with his family and his fiancée.

“I miss home and I miss my family and I have a beautiful fiancée that I can’t wait to get home and marry,” he said. “Rest and Recuperation leave will give me an opportunity to see my family for a couple of weeks and take a break from the everyday life of being deployed in Afghanistan.”

Telling the Army Story: Community Relations

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