FORT KNOX, Ky. -- It's fairly common to enlist two siblings from the same family, sometimes three, but it is a truly rare occurrence when one recruiter enlists five individuals from one family.
Sgt. 1st Class Amber Hansen, an Army recruiter assigned to the Peru Recruiting Station in Peru, Illinois, helped to enlist all five siblings of the Wierzbicki family over the past two years.
The kids involved their parents throughout the enlistment process, and Hansen and her team were always available to answer any questions they had. Their parents said they are very proud of their children's decisions to serve.
"It makes me feel proud -- like I did something right along the way," the siblings' mother Nicole said. "They have excelled in this [small] town and during school. They will go on to do greater things in their lives."
Hansen's first contact with the Wierzbicki family was with Austin in 2017 during his senior year. When the other family members saw his success and the support he received from Hansen, their interest in finding their own path within the Army grew.
"He was a referral from one of my prior recruits," Hansen said. "He wanted to enlist into the Army to challenge himself and get some life experience."
Austin was very smart and athletic, Hansen said, but didn't see himself going directly to college after graduating from high school. She knew he would be a great fit for the Army and made it a point to discuss how the Army could benefit him both during and after his service.
Austin chose to enlist as a signals intelligence analyst, so he would have a career path to follow beyond service. He enlisted in November 2017, while he was still in high school and shipped to basic training the following July after graduation.
Shortly after Austin finished Advanced Individual Training and arrived at his first unit, Austin's older sister, Haley, messaged Hansen. Haley saw the opportunities Austin was receiving and decided she would like to join the Army as well. Haley had been working for the county bus system but said she wanted to do something more.
"I chose to enlist because … I needed more of a challenge and wanted to try something harder for myself," Haley said.
Haley's enlistment process took a while to complete because of a disqualifying tattoo on her hand. She stuck with it, though, and was able to ship to basic training in September 2019.
"She was committed to joining the Army and making something for herself, and almost a year later, she enlisted into the Army as a combat medic," Hansen said.
Having seen the success of her two oldest children, Nicole Wierzbicki contacted Hansen to discuss career opportunities for her last three children, who are triplets and still in high school. Each of the triplets had different careers in mind, so Hansen worked with each one to get them qualified and secure in their career paths.
Sequia was the first of the triplets to enlist, and decided to become a mortuary affairs specialist.
"When Sequia was younger, she found a dead bird and would ask to fix it or wanted to find a way to make it better," Nicole said. "Most kids are scared of things like that, but she was always accepting of it."
Sierra was next. She wanted to follow in Haley's footsteps and enlist as a combat medic. She was already working with her high school's Emergency Medical Technician course and felt she wanted to have a similar career in the Army. Unfortunately, she was unable to qualify for the specific occupation.
"As a result, we looked into things that she was also interested in and talked about using her G.I. Bill benefits to continue a career in the EMT field after her enlistment," Hansen said.
Sierra still knew the Army was to be part of her career path and decided to become a combat engineer with an airborne contract.
"Combat engineering seemed like the adrenaline rush that I was looking for in life," Sierra said. "It was the [demolitions and explosives] and teamwork aspect … that I thought was cool. It is going to be this exhilarating feeling, and it just seemed like an adventure that I wanted to take."
Both Sierra and Sequia enlisted in November 2019.
Mason was the last of the siblings to find his place with the Army.
"He was very unsure of what he wanted to do after high school, which is why he was the last to enlist," Hansen said. "He wanted to be sure of his choice before committing to anything."
It took several months of discussion about the Army's career fields and his hobbies to find a job that would correlate with Mason's interests. He finally decided on becoming a cannon crewmember and enlisted in December 2019. All three triplets leave for basic training in June 2020.
Hansen noted that recruiting each of the siblings was a different experience and that it was important to understand that they were each individuals with different wants and needs.
"Keeping their interests in mind helped to make sure each got the career path they were interested in and comfortable doing," she said. "I made sure not to rush their processing, so they could ensure this was the path they wanted. In doing so, all of them were able to enlist in a supportive environment."