Faces From the Front for May 17, 2010 - 1st Lt. Jennifer Purser
Current Unit: 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade
Current Position: Military Intelligence Analyst Officer
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Camp Slayer, Iraq
Hometown: Chesapeake, Va., and Tacoma, Wash.
Years of Service: 2
Although brothers and sisters may fight while growing up, by the time they reach young adulthood, they usually come to respect each other. For the Purser family, the bond between siblings was formed as self-appointed "military brats" and it has only become stronger as they have both chosen to follow in their parents' footsteps serve in the Army.
“Like most siblings, we fought non-stop when we were younger, but as we've matured, we have really gotten very close,” said 1st Lt. Jennifer Purser.
So when it came time for her younger brother, Justin, to be commissioned and graduate from James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Va., he asked her to pin him - and it was an honor that she didn't want to miss. Although currently deployed to Iraq, she traveled home on R&R to be there.
“I am so proud of the man my little brother has become. He is already a stellar leader, and he will make superb young officer,” she said.
Since Justin's commissioning earlier this month, there are now two lieutenants in the Purser family.
“He is no longer my little brother, but rather, my peer. As usual, I will feel the need to give him advice, and as usual he'll listen to some of it, and be annoyed by the rest,” she said. “Now that he is 2nd Lt. Purser, he is my professional peer and I have to respect that. That is, at least until I get promoted to captain.”
Following his commissioning through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program at JMU, he will report to Fort Rucker, Ala., where he will complete Aviation Officer Basic Course (OBC). Unlike his sister who serves in military intelligence, he has chosen to serve in an aviation unit.
In addition to having a sibling in the Army, both of their parents also served as career officers. Their father, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Joseph Purser, retired in 2000, and their mother, Brig. Gen. Leslie Purser, is the Deputy Chief of the Army Reserve. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the matriarch's commissioning.
“Growing up, I honestly never thought I'd be doing the same job my parents did, and neither did they! When I got into college, ROTC just made sense. I'd grown up in the military, I understood and had become accustomed to the culture and lifestyle, and I was attracted to the mission and sense of purpose one feels serving in the military,” the daughter said.
When Purser graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and was commissioned in May 2008, her mother was there to pin her.
Yet just 15 months after being commissioned, Purser received orders to deploy to Iraq.
“I feel fortunate that I deployed early in my military career. During the seven months in Iraq thus far, I have matured more than during any other period of my life. As a young platoon leader, I learned quite a few lessons that, had I not deployed, I would not have learned until many more years down the road,” she said.
Purser is serving with the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion and is a platoon leader and a company executive officer. In those roles, she is responsible for leading more than 25 Soldiers in a Tactical Human Intelligence Collection Platoon as well as coordinating equipment and vehicle maintenance, property accountability and supply shipments for the company.
“My platoon sergeant and I are the eyes and ears for our Soldiers, letting the company know the teams' needs, successes, and ideas, while ensuring they are always doing their job the right way,” she said.
Purser is scheduled to return home from her deployment in September and she will continue to serve with her unit at Fort Lewis, Wash. Since she moved to the Pacific Northwest shortly before her deployment, she is looking forward to exploring the area and participating in a variety of outdoor activities. In the future, she has requested to be stationed in Germany, and she hopes her brother will receive an assignment there too once he graduates from OBC.