Faces From the Front for April 13, 2009 - Pfc. Mark Small
Current Unit: Battery A, 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad
Current Position: Gunner
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Baghdad, Iraq
Hometown: Los Lunas, N.M.
Years of Service: 2
Twenty-one-year-old Pfc. Mark Small, a native of Los Lunas, N.M., joined the Army almost two years ago when he was looking for some purpose and direction in his life. He was inspired by his brother's decision to serve in the Army, and is now part of a third generation of his family that has volunteered to serve in the U.S. military.
Currently serving his first deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Small is a gunner assigned to Battery A, 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division — Baghdad.
Prior to being deployed, Small's only expectation of what lay ahead was from the stories other Paratroopers in his unit shared and images from the news. But after four months of being deployed in Baghdad, Small said that the fast-paced environment, frequent missions and talking to the Iraqi people have made his time in Iraq an incredible experience.
"It is a lot of work, and we are very busy but it is better than I expected," said Small. "The Iraqi people are very nice to us and I like to experience their culture."
His time both in the Army and in Iraq have matured Small from the young man he was just two short years ago. After graduating high school, Small bounced from job to job and did not like the direction his life was heading. Soon after his brother enlisted, Small decided to take his life down a new path.
"My brother joined the Army before I did and he inspired me to join and make something better of my life," he said.
Service is nothing new in the Small family. Small's grandfather was in the Navy during World War II and his father also served six years in the Navy. His brother recently returned from a year-long deployment to Iraq with the Fort Hood-based 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.
Small added that although he is away from home, his fellow Paratroopers in his platoon are like a second family to him. Already a dedicated Paratrooper, Small has goals to further his military career. He hopes to go to Jumpmaster school and plans to go to Special Forces selection upon completing his duty in Iraq.