OTF Soldier Story for April 26, 2010 - Staff Sgt. Joey Torkildson
Current Unit: 652nd Engineering Company
Current Position: Bridge Crew Member
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Arden Hills, Minn.
Hometown: New Brighton, Minn.
Years of Service: 10
Having served 10 years in the Army, Staff Sgt. Joey Torkildson has worked with some of the best leaders the Army has to offer. In that time, he’s also worked with those who fell short of their potential. When he became a Noncommissioned Officer (NCO), Torkildson strived to model himself after those whose leadership styles he admired and to learn from those who made mistakes along the way. Now working in a role of training and mentoring younger enlisted Soldiers himself, the NCO takes pride in pushing and inspiring these young men and women to reach their full potential.
Torkildson himself is constantly pushing himself to better his skills and keep improving in every aspect of his career. When he deployed to Iraq for the second time last year, he saw firsthand the changes and growth in himself that have taken place throughout his decade of service in the Army.
“The first time I deployed, I was younger and had just received my sergeant stripes. This time, I served as a squad leader and had a lot more leadership responsibilities,” he said. “Knowing what I knew after my first deployment, it made a huge difference as to how I led my Soldiers. This time I knew what needed to be done and why I needed to lead my guys to accomplish the missions.”
“The thing that really surprised me the most was how important good leadership is in a time of deployment,” Torkildson continued. “It can really make or break not only the mission, but also the morale of the troops,” he said.
While deployed to Iraq this past year with the 401st Engineer Company, he served as a squad leader and also as a bridge crew member. His main focus was rebuilding bridges throughout Iraq.
“Bridge building is very important to the military. It helps to move troops to the front and shortens the supply route,” he explained, noting that they also fix civilian bridges that have been destroyed or damaged by the war.
Torkildson also had the opportunity to help train members of the Iraqi army, something that he said was very important to him.
“Before I left for this deployment, I told myself that I wanted to know I had made a difference in the lives of people overseas,” he said. “Having the opportunity to train the local Soldiers and then working right alongside of them was a great opportunity. I know I accomplished what I set out to do when I deployed.”
Torkildson returned home from Iraq in February and currently lives in Arden Hills, Minn., with his wife, Kendel. The two were married in between his deployments to Iraq.
“When I deployed after I got married, I was very driven to come home to my wife and other loved ones. I was itching to get home for that one particular reason,” he said.
The Soldier plans to graduate this fall with a degree in business administration from the Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn. He is eager to graduate and start his own business.