OTF Soldier Story for June 21, 2010 - Cpl. Michael Gilbreath
Current Unit: 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
Current Position: Signal Systems Support Specialist
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Fort Carson, Colo.
Hometown: Ansbach, Germany
Years of Service: 4
Growing up on an Army base in Germany, Cpl. Michael Gilbreath saw firsthand the life of a Soldier and always knew he wanted to follow in his father’s bootsteps and serve in uniform. As a result, this father and son bond was only strengthened by concurrent deployments to Iraq. This family's call to duty has allowed them to serve honorably in uniform, whether in Germany, America or Iraq, and their common experiences have ultimately strengthened them as a family.
“I knew I wanted to be a man like my father. He did communications for the Army, just like I do now, and I saw the success he provided for the family,” he said.
Now as a signal systems support specialist, the same as his father, he has done just that.
During his deployment in 2008-2009 with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Gilbreath was responsible for providing automation support and maintaining digital communications at Convoy Support Center Scania, near the Iraqi village of Nippur. His efforts to keep the networks up and ready were critical to ensuring that satellite communication was maintained with units out on missions. Gilbreath was also sent out on convoys to service communications equipment and technology.
While Gilbreath was in the southeast city of Nippur, his father was concurrently deployed to Iraq as well, and was stationed at Camp Striker in the northern part of Iraq. Although their mission requirements kept them from seeing one another, they were able to take leave together and often spoke on the phone.
“When things started to build up, it was great to have him there,” said Gilbreath. “We were able to call each other when we needed, and bounce ideas off each other since we were doing very similar jobs.”
Back from Iraq, Gilbreath is currently stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. He continues to serve as a signal systems support specialist, and works to ensure that communications equipment in garrison is in service and maintained properly.
Having served for four years, he looks forward to continuing to serve in the Army for many years to come.
“I know that freedom isn’t free. It is paid by the blood of my fallen comrades. I felt I had to earn my citizenship, my right, my freedoms and to pay tribute and respect to fallen Soldiers, and the best way I felt I could do that was by joining those who have already served,” he said. “I want to share and spread the very same ideals that our very nation was built on with nations across the world.”
He also notes the ideals of service to one’s country that his parents instilled in him as a child.
“I grew up believing that you have citizens and you have civilians. Citizens do something for their country, while a civilian just hangs out and takes their rights for granted. I always wanted to be a citizen, not just a civilian,” Gilbreath said.
He will celebrate Fourth of July this year with his family in Georgia, as his father is now stationed at Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah, Ga.
“Now that I have served my country in uniform, I feel like I have earned my American citizenship and it gives me a greater joy to celebrate the Fourth of July than before,” he said.