OTF Soldier Story for March 8, 2010 - Staff Sgt. Candice Delgado-Mella
Current Unit: 2600th Military Intelligence Group
Current Position: Intelligence Analyst
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Hometown: Las Cruces, N.M.
Years of Service: 10
Staff Sgt. Candice Delgado-Mella is an intelligence analyst with the 2600th Military Intelligence Group and a member of the U.S. Army Reserve who is proud to serve her country in uniform. However, as a mother of two young girls, she is also proud to give her daughters a positive role model of a strong, independent and brave woman. She believes that lessons learned in uniform, especially overseas, inform how she thinks as a mom, and Delgado-Mella hopes her daughters will follow in her footsteps to serve in the future.
During Delgado-Mella’s deployment to Baghdad, Iraq in 2008-2009, she served in the 301st Military Intelligence Battalion, and she was the noncommissioned officer in charge for the Tribes and Religion team. Her team was responsible for providing intelligence to the command officers, particularly working to correlate insurgent activity and increased fighting between the Sunnis and Shiites with religious holidays and cultural traditions. In her line of work, she often met with Iraqi locals and officials to gather information related to upcoming missions.
Aside from her military intelligence responsibilities, she also volunteered with the Iraqi Boy and Girl Scouts, through a partnership offered at the Victory Base Complex.
“It helped me when I was missing my kids,” said the mother of two. “Children aren’t that different around the world. They have the same type of innocence and curiosity.”
While Delgado-Mella was stationed at Camp Victory, she had the opportunity to meet President Obama and former President Bush, as well as Gen. David H. Petraeus. She also participated in the filming of the Stephen Colbert show at the Al Faw Palace, just days before she left Iraq.
“It was a great opportunity, and a fun way to end the deployment. When I returned, everyone had seen me on television,” she said.
After graduating high school a year early at age 17 and attending a community college part-time, Delgado-Mella joined the Army to travel the world. She served on active duty in Korea for four years before transitioning to the Army Reserve in 2004 and moving back to the United States.
“The Army allowed me to realize my potential and not rely on others to take care of myself. I know I can make it on my own,” she said. “It is a scary first step, but it is so rewarding to serve your country.”
Originally from Las Cruces, N.M., Delgado-Mella is a graduate of Mayfield High School, and currently lives in the Fort Worth, Texas area with her two daughters, Karina (8) and Karolina (6).
“I’ve told both my daughters that they can do whatever they want to do, including serve in the military. They can be strong and independent girls. The military will teach them that it is okay to be that,” she said.
As a civilian, she is a security analyst for a government contracting firm and works with the Department of Homeland Security, something that she says goes “hand-in-hand” with her military background and experiences. In the future, she hopes to finish her bachelor’s degree in security management and move into a managerial role at work, as well as become a warrant officer for military intelligence.