OTF Soldier Story for March 1, 2010 - Sgt. Colleen Myrick
Current Unit: 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
Current Position: Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Fort Carson, Colo.
Hometown: Erie, Pa.
Years of Service: 9
When Sgt. Colleen Myrick joined the Army right before graduating high school in 2001, she wanted to serve her country and do something different with her life. After two deployments to Iraq, she now serves as the only female mechanic in a platoon of 42 Soldiers and knows her goal has been achieved.
"Everything I learned about cars, I learned with the Army," she said, noting that unlike many of the Soldiers she works alongside, she did not work as a mechanic before enlisting.
Now back at Fort Carson, her role as a wheeled vehicle mechanic is different.
"Being a mechanic in theater is very different than being in garrison. While we’re deployed, the vehicles have to be up at all times. We work 12-hour shifts and run a 24-hour motor pool," she said.
For Myrick, her deployment last year was her second in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She had previously served in Iraq from December 2005 to December 2006 with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. During that deployment, she served as a mechanic and also went on patrols as a member of a Female Search Team (FiST). FiSTs are used throughout Iraq to prevent enemy forces from utilizing women to disrupt humanitarian missions and they ensure that the integrity of missions are performed within the culture, customs and courtesies of the Iraqi people.
Although she deployed with different units each time, she has fond memories from her time overseas.
"Even though both deployments were hard work and mission focused, every day was fun. It was a great chance to bond with other Soldiers, and I had great teams working alongside of me both times," she said.
The mother of two said that leaving her children was the hardest part of her deployment. While she was away, her sister cared for her children, who were just toddlers at the time.
"My younger son was only 1 when I left, so he knew I was gone, but didn’t understand why. My 2-year-old just knew that Mommy was working in the desert," Myrick said.
After returning last fall, she is glad to be reunited with her children.
"It was so great to come home to them," she said. "We jumped back into life like it is supposed to be - a mother raising her children."
Myrick currently serves with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo. Now in a leadership role as a squad leader, she has learned to balance her obligations as a mother and a Soldier.
She lives in the Colorado Springs area with her husband, Sgt. Bradley Myrick, also a Soldier at Fort Carson, and two sons, Aiden (3) and Sherman (2). When asked if her sons will follow in her footsteps and serve in the Army, she admitted that wasn’t something she had considered yet.
"It is too soon to tell. I just want to get them potty trained first," she said with a laugh.