TOOELE ARMY DEPOT, Utah - In every battle, training event or exercise, several Soldiers set themselves apart from their peers. Pvt. Brandon Deierlein's hard work, dedication and persistence stood out from his coworkers during Operation Overblast at Tooele Army Depot (TEAD), Utah, April 6-10.
Operation Overblast provided on-the-job training to a variety of military professions while readying the Soldiers for sustaining operations in a deployed environment. For Deierlein, a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to the 542nd Support Maintenance Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., he maintained and troubleshot all the 542nd SMC vehicles while in a field environment.
He conducted daily preventative maintenance checks and services while tackling other services and faults alongside fellow mechanics. His supervisors noticed his persistence, dedication and hard work throughout the exercise and nominated him to receive a commander's coin from the TEAD commander.
Deierlein's Army career almost came to a screeching halt before it began when his mother passed away two months before he left for basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C.
"It was really hard on me when my mom passed," Deierlein said. "I tried to deal with it the best that I could. I still have bad days where its hits me hard, but I try to live day-by-day."
Deierlein had a couple of reasons for joining the Army, just like a lot of people in the military. He saw some of his friends enlist in the Army, but others ended up shot or arrested when he was growing up near Fort Benning, Ga. Those factors played a small part in his decision to enlist. The biggest factor was the support he got from his mother.
"Joining the Army helped steer me away from joining a bad crowd and guided me towards where I belong," he said. "My mother told me before I left for basic that she was proud of me and what I was doing."
His mother served as a dietician in the Army for about 15 years. Deierlein said she was the only one there for him growing up, despite her busy schedule that came with serving in the military.
"My mother helped me decide to go active, National Guard or reserve," he said. "Going active gave me a full-time job, food in my stomach, place to live, paid for clothes on my back, and let me travel."
Deierlein recalled being approached by an Army recruiter during his senior year of high school, asking him what he was going to do after finishing school.
"I thought about going to technical college, but didn't seem right to me," he said. "So I made the decision to enlist [in the Army], and left right after high school."
Deierlein experienced some rough times, due to his loss, after arriving at his first unit, but found support from new friends. He said his company's leadership also helped him regain focus and get back on the right path.
"When I first met Deierlein, he was having some trouble adjusting," said Pfc. Kayla Talbot, an allied trade specialist in 542nd SMC. "After we became friends, he started to open up and relax some. I could tell after talking to him that some of his shyness was tied to losing his mother."
It took some time before Deierlein would to open up to her. She said once he did, she learned how much his mother meant to him and the impact she had on his decisions and actions.
He said his mother's example pushed him to put forth his best efforts in completing any issue he encountered.
Today, he continues to push forward with his head held high, despite the tragic event that happened a little more than a year ago. He is still getting used to living on his own and settling into the Army life. He still thinks about his mother constantly and remembers the support she always gave him.
"I still have those days where it is hard," he said, "but I remember my mother told me she was proud of me and what I am doing. I think she would still be proud of me."