OTF Soldier Story for July 13, 2009 - Staff Sgt. Kaleb Menn
Current Unit: 724th Transportation Company
Current Position: Motor Transportation Operator
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Bartonville, Ill.
Hometown: Plymouth, Ill.
Years of Service: 7
As a child, Staff Sgt. Kaleb Menn always dreamed of serving in the Army. Growing up, his favorite store was the local military surplus store and he loved playing "Soldier" with his brother. Motivated by the events of 9/11, at the age of 18, Menn made his childhood dream a reality when he joined the Army in 2002. Since enlisting, he is grateful for the opportunities the Army has given him, and in turn, has devoted himself to helping others both in his unit and in his community.
Although he had already deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-2005, Menn volunteered for a second year-long tour to Iraq in 2006. As the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge serving in an Iraqi Army unit, he had the chance to work with and train Iraqi Soldiers. His second tour overseas gave him a greater respect for the locals and a more profound understanding of the overall mission in Iraq. In recognition of his meritorious service during the deployment, Menn received a Bronze Star.
As Menn was returning in 2007 from Iraq, his brother, Capt. Thomas Menn, was preparing for his first deployment. Menn's pride in being a NCO creates a friendly rivalry with his older brother, who is a West Point graduate and currently serves as a Blackhawk pilot in the 3rd Infantry Division. Although the brothers took different paths of service in the Army, both brothers have answered the call of duty to serve their country.
Menn is committed to being the best leader possible for the Soldiers in his Army Reserve unit. Menn strives to lead by example, preferring to seek input from younger enlisted Soldiers and execute the mission alongside them whenever possible.
"I've seen good and bad leaders, but even the bad leaders motivate me to do better," Menn says. "My Soldiers mean a lot to me, and I do everything that I can to take care of and lead them the best way possible."
As a civilian, he works as a Residential Assistant for a non-profit organization in Illinois that seeks to help the developmentally disabled and mentally ill in their everyday lives. Though his job as a civilian and his role in the Army are very different, Menn enjoys that both allow him to help people. Menn is currently working to complete his nursing degree, a process that has been extended due to his multiple deployments.
Menn currently lives in Bartonville, Ill., with his wife Pfc. Mindy Menn. The couple, who met while serving in the same Army Reserve unit, is preparing to deploy to Iraq together next month.