By Brandon BeachJuly 3, 2014
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Debra Blankenbaker wears many hats for the Kaiserslautern, Germany-based 7th Civil Support Command.
Blankenbaker, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, serves as chief of the 7th CSC's Officer Personnel Branch, G1 Section. She also counsels Soldiers as the program manager for the command's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. And now, following a June 27 promotion ceremony here on Daenner Kaserne, Blankenbaker adds another job title to her signature block -- command chief warrant officer 5, the highest warrant officer rank in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve.
"This is an extremely rare promotion. Thirty-five years in the Army, and this is the first one I've ever been a part of," said Brig. Gen. Paul Benanati, 7th CSC commanding general, who presided over the ceremony. "Not only does Debra get promoted, but the Army Reserve Command has agreed to upgrade this position over here [in Europe]."
Blankenbaker's promotion officially took effect May 12, by order of the president of the U.S. She is the first chief warrant officer 5 in the history of the U.S. Army Reserve in Europe. The 7th CSC, part of the Kaiserslautern, Germany-based 21st Theater Sustainment Command, is a U.S. Army Reserve unit with subordinate units throughout Europe.
"[As CW5], she governs all of the warrant officers in Europe and manages their duties," said Maj. Jason McKenzie, 7th CSC secretary of the general staff. "This position wasn't here as of a month ago. We fought to get this position coded here."
Previously, the senior chief warrant officer in Europe held the rank of CW4.
Blankenbaker started her military career in 1981 as an administrative specialist. She completed the warrant officer candidate course in 1994, followed by graduations from the basic, advanced and senior courses. She joined the 7th CSC in May of 2013.
"I've served with a lot of warrant officers throughout my 35 years in the Army, and I truly believe this is the finest warrant officer I've ever worked with," said Benanati.
At the promotion ceremony, Blankenbaker replaced her CW4 shoulder boards on her uniform with those signifying the rank of CW5, with help from Benanati and her husband, John, a supply technician with the Landstuhl, Germany-based 181st Signal Company.
"I want to thank everyone for coming out and all the support the command has given me," said Blankenbaker. "You are all a great group, and I enjoy working with all of you."