Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for January 10, 2011 - Staff Sgt. Nicholas Negron

Staff Sergeant Nicholas Negron

Current Unit: 2nd Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
Current Position: Cannon Crewmember
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Fort Bragg, N.C.
Hometown: Brentwood, Calif.
Years of Service: 6

During his deployment to Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division last year, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Negron displayed his dedication to the mission and his commitment to the welfare of his fellow Soldiers. Under the Noncommissioned Officer’s leadership, his platoon successfully completed more than 30 missions without a single casualty.

As part of Task Force Fury, Negron and his platoon worked directly with the Afghan government, military and police, as well as the local citizens, to create an environment that would foster long-term progress in southern Afghanistan. The platoon visited surrounding communities to train their police and military forces, as well as to conduct civil affairs missions aiding the civilian population.

“My most rewarding experience during deployment was the satisfaction I received working shoulder-to-shoulder with my Afghan counterparts establishing building blocks to make their government self-sufficient,” Negron said. “We saw them grow and learn. When we left, they were doing things that they weren’t able to do when we arrived.”

Seeing their progress was all the thanks Negron needed.

“We were training them to do what we do, so we could get out of there,” said Negron. “When we arrived, they were scared to leave the wire. But by the time we left, they wanted to go out; they didn’t have to be ordered out on missions.”

In addition to Negron witnessing the evolution of the Afghan troops, his chain of command also saw Negron grow as both a Soldier and a leader. Starting his deployment as a team leader, he progressed to serving as a squad leader, and ended his time overseas as a platoon sergeant.

Prior to his deployment last year, Negron served in Iraq with the 10th Mountain Division in 2005-2006, yet notes the differences between the two tours.

“They were like day and night,” he said. “The mission was completely different between the two, but I was still able to use skills from my first deployment, such as infantry tactics, to help last year.”

While he was deployed, Negron left behind his wife and young daughter. Trying to balance going to school, working and raising their daughter, his wife moved back to California for the year to be closer to Negron’s extended family.

Now that Negron is home, they all reside in the Fayetteville, N.C., area and he continues to serve with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“I have the same duties and I’m responsible for the same guys,” he said. “The only difference is that we are training on cannons, rather than going on infantry missions.”

In the future, Negron hopes to join a Special Forces unit and deploy again in an infantry role.

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