Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for April 18, 2011 - Sgt. David Palczewski, Sgt. Fernando Franco, and Staff Sgt. Jenniffer Pitts

Sergeant David Palczewski

Name: Sgt. David Palczewski
Current Unit: 304th United States Military Academy, 104th Training Division
Current Position: Human Resources Information Systems Management Specialist
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Calais, Maine
Hometown: Lanoka Harbor, N.J.
Years of Service: 7

Sergeant Fernando Franco

Name: Sgt. Fernando Franco
Current Unit: 363rd Training Support Battalion, 91st Division (Training Support)
Current Position: Military Police Officer
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Victorville, Calif.
Hometown: Montebello and Riverside, Calif.
Years of Service: 14

Staff Sergeant Jenniffer Pitts

Name: Staff Sgt. Jenniffer Pitts
Current Unit: 374th Chemical Company
Current Position: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialist
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Henderson, Nev.
Hometown: Corry, Pa., and Clymer, N.Y.
Years of Service: 9

On Thursday as the Army Reserve marks its 103rd anniversary, nearly 60 Warrior Citizens will reaffirm their commitment to protect and defend the United States during the sixth annual National Capitol Reenlistment Ceremony at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, the Chief of the Army Reserve, will administer the oath of enlistment to these Soldiers who represent the more than 206,000 Reservists who answer the call to duty, balancing civilian careers and military service.

Sgt. David Palczewski, Sgt. Fernando Franco and Staff Sgt. Jenniffer Pitts are just three of those dedicated Citizen Soldiers being honored.

“The military really helped to prepare me for my civilian occupation,” said Palczewski, who works for the U.S. Border Patrol in addition to serving in the Army Reserve. “Coming into my job with the Border Patrol, I was already familiar with how to work with a team to accomplish the mission, in addition to weapon handling and equipment training.”

When he deployed to Afghanistan in 2005-2006 with the 316th Postal Company, Palczewski worked hard to ensure that incoming and outgoing mail operations ran smoothly, a role critical to upholding Soldier morale. Now with the 104th Training Division’s unit at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Palczewksi provides land navigation and geospatial training to cadets and future officers. These varied military roles helped prepare Palczewski for the demands of his civilian career.

“The Army has taught me how to work hard and manage my time well,” he said. “I love being part of the organization and the camaraderie between Soldiers that it brings,” he said.

For Franco, that bond of solidarity among Soldiers saved his life. While deployed to Camp Bucca, Iraq in 2002-2003, Franco was attacked by a detainee at the facility where he and his unit were responsible for detainee operations. His comrades quickly came to his aid.

”During a routine meal distribution, a group of detainees started a riot and one of them attacked me with a tent pole,” he said. “In the chaos, he managed to corner me, and as I dodged to avoid the weapon, two warning shots were fired. Finally, a third shot was fired by my comrade, killing the detainee and saving my life.”

Knowing his fellow guards will defend him is paramount, as Franco also works as a civilian law enforcement officer with the state of California. He is able to apply lessons learned as a Soldier to be a better civilian employee.

“My military experience has really helped me to excel above others in my field, particularly when it comes to being proficient with a firearm,” he said. “Beyond that, Army values, such as discipline, honor, and integrity, have aided me in the scope of my duties as a civilian.”

While Franco performs similar duties both in and out of uniform, Pitts works to support the Army Reserve both roles. She works fulltime as a civilian for the Army in addition to serving as a noncommissioned officer.

While deployed to Kuwait, she served as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist and was the commander’s liaison with the 17th Signal Battalion. She currently serves as the unit administrator for the 374th Chemical Company and is responsible for completing a variety of technical, analytical and advisory tasks.

For Pitts, military service is all in the family. Many of her immediate and extended family including her husband have served in uniform. When they both were on active duty, the couple was deployed together to Iraq. Pitts later made the decision to transition to the Army Reserve in 2008 in order to start a family.

“I didn’t want to leave the military completely, so I joined the Army Reserve to still serve my country,” she said.

She and her husband welcomed a daughter last year and Pitts hopes that her daughter will someday take advantage of the opportunities that the military has to offer.

“You join the military to serve your country; that’s the bottom line,” she said. “Everyone is volunteering here. I’ve gone to war and I’m willing to go again. I just want to do my part.”

The National Capitol Reenlistment Ceremony gives the Army Reserve an opportunity to recognize these and other exemplary Soldiers who choose to continue their commitment to serve their country.

For additional information about the sixth annual National Capitol Reenlistment Ceremony, please visit http://stayarmyreserve.wordpress.com/events/2011_qolfr_ncrc/, and to learn more about the Army Reserve, visit http://www.usar.army.mil.

Telling the Army Story: Community Relations

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