CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - Today's Soldier in Focus is Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Sierra, a combat engineer assigned to the 836th Sapper Company, 890th Engineer Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad. Sierra, a native of Brownsville, Texas, enlisted in the U.S. Army twenty years ago. Sierra has seen many combat engagements throughout his career, including his second deployment to Iraq.
Currently, as the platoon sergeant of the 1st Platoon "Reapers," the combat engineer's mission this time is to keep the roads in the Baghdad area free of land mines, improvised explosive devices and other threats.
"I enjoy passing my knowledge to my subordinates-it is my Soldier's job to hunt for IEDs so the roads are safe to travel for Coalition forces and the Iraqi people," Sierra explained. "It's my job to make sure they do their job safely and return home to their families."
Sierra, who holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, worked at several television stations over the course of five years before he decided to pursue other career opportunities. He completed the Troops to Teachers program in Texas six years ago and is currently a special education kindergarten teacher at Morning Side Elementary in Brownsville, Texas.
"I worked as a civilian journalist for a while, but I became tired of always dealing with tragedy and sadness," said Sierra. "I wanted to do something I felt good about. That's why I became a teacher."
Sierra's diverse and impressive military resume brings invaluable experience to his platoon. He has been a combat cameraman, a reconnaissance scout and worked with psychological operation units.
Although he has had many missions throughout his career, one of the highlights of working in the combat camera field was being able to video Manuel Noriega, the former Panamanian general and the military dictator of Panama as he was surrounded by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and apprehended as a prisoner of war during Operation Just Cause in 1989.
During the operation, the U.S. forces bombarded the former dictator with loud music over large speakers to exert psychological pressure. This experience would serve as Sierra's first introduction to psychological operations; to where he would later transfer and re-classify as a psychological operations specialist.
After working within the special operations world, he returned in 1994 as a cavalry reconnaissance scout during Operation Restore Hope in Haiti.
A certified scuba diving enthusiast, Sierra once worked for two summers as a shark wrangler at Sea-Arama Sea World that used to be in Galveston, Texas while he attended college at Texas A&M.
"Part of my job there was animal rescue. I remember once we rescued a pygmy sperm whale that had beached herself. We brought her back to the aquarium and placed her in the tank, but she kept sinking to the bottom, so we hoisted her in the tank to keep her from drowning," Sierra described. "It was heartbreaking to me because she didn't make it through the night."
Sierra's 12-month tour in Iraq is coming to an end in a couple of weeks. He plans on returning home to Texas and continuing in the Texas Army National Guard while teaching in the public school system.