Faces From the Front for December 6, 2010 - Chief Warrant Officer Charles R. Perry
Current Unit: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Current Position: Resource Management Officer In Charge
Component: National Guard
Current Location: Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait
Hometown: Vienna, W.Va.
Years of Service: 24
Chief Warrant Officer Charles R. Perry has been in the United States Army for 24 years, most of these years were spent training and serving as a field artillery officer, a role in which the Soldier planed, implemented, and evaluated operations utilizing radar technology to detect mortars, planes and enemy forces in the field. Imagine Perry’s reaction when he arrived in Kuwait and found out that he would serve not in the role for which he had trained, but instead was named the resource management officer-in-charge, responsible for overseeing the maintenance of the roads, buildings and facilities at Ali Al Salem Air Base.
“As a field artillery officer who spent the last year learning electronic warfare, what surprised me the most was to be made officer-in-charge of one of the largest sections in the detachment and be handed public works engineering,” Perry said.
That said, the Soldier has delved into his new assignment, working diligently to maintain the physical structures on Ali Al Salem Air Base and ensure utilities, such as water and electricity, are provided properly and consistently.
“I usually tell people that if the lights are on and the water is running, then I’ve done my job, but it really goes much deeper than that,” Perry explained. “We are responsible for the entire physical plant of the base, to include all the structures and systems. We provide the utilities, fix the roads, post signs, maintain the existing buildings, and build or acquire new ones.”
Ali Al Salem Air Base serves as a stepping stone for troop movements between the U.S. and Afghanistan and Iraq, and Perry’s work in maintaining the base affects not only the Soldiers serving there but also the Soldiers who transition through the base.
“What we do here touches every one of our tenant units and the hundreds of thousands of service members who move through the Ali Al Salem Air Base every year,” Perry said. “What we do not only affects the ability of everyone on Ali Al Salem Air Base to perform their mission, but it also directly affects their safety, health, and welfare.”
“By ensuring that all structures are up to safety regulations, Perry guarantees that his fellow Soldiers living and working conditions are not a source of risk or hazard.
“Because we are in temporary structures, fire is a constant threat. Ensuring that we are maintaining equipment properly, and conducing electrical, structural, and fire safety inspections on all new and remodeled structures has helped us to prevent any major structural fires on our watch,” Perry explained. “Electrical grounding is another area we have been very proactive and successful in maintaining a great safety record.”
Perry has been able to apply some of the knowledge gained in his work as a field artillery officer to his current job, making certain aspects of a bit easier for him.
“As someone who was responsible for a Firefinder radar system as a field artillery officer, I learned a great deal about electricity, which has allowed me to talk a lot more intelligently with engineers and technicians here,” Perry explained.
Perry has done his best and certainly risen to the challenge presented to him when he arrived in Kuwait, however his deployment has not been without trials and difficulties.
“This deployment has been a constant challenge to adapt to new issues and situations. Taking on a job that had nothing to do with either my military occupation specialty or my civilian job experience has required that I learn and become confident with a whole new skill set,” Perry explained.
The Soldier has exerted a great deal of effort to get up to speed on all aspects of his work, but in the end this deployment has been an invaluable learning experience for Perry, and he is proud of the work he and his fellow Soldiers accomplished.
“The pleasant part of the surprise has been how well our troops have adapted to a non-standard mission, and taken great pride and personal ownership of everything they do,” Perry said.
As the Soldier prepares to return to the U.S. this winter, he reflects on what it means to him to have been able to serve this deployment.
“Being able to deploy has been my greatest reward,” Perry said. “I have some health challenges which have prevented other Soldiers from deploying, and I have spent a couple of years and a lot of my own money getting myself medically fit to deploy. After 20 years in the National Guard, nine years into the War on Terror, I finally got to answer the call. It is difficult to put into words how important this is to me.”
Upon returning home, Perry looks forward to spending time with his wife and two daughters. Perry also plans to complete his remaining courses and obtain his Masters in Divinity from Unity Institute.