Specialist Charlie Baltzegar, a satellite payload controller, from Echo Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade (SATOPS) conducts a 12-mile road march as part of the SMDC Best Warrior competition (US Army Photo by Master Sgt. Steve Segin/Released)
Specialist Charlie Baltzegar, a satellite payload controller, from Echo Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade (SATOPS) conducts a 12-mile road march as part of the SMDC Best Warrior competition (US Army Photo by Master Sgt. Steve Segin/Released) (Photo Credit: Master Sgt. Robert Segin) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fort Carson, Colo.--Specialist Charlie Baltzegar, a satellite payload controller, from Echo Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade, in Okinawa, Japan, made the jump across the Pacific Ocean to compete in the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Best Warrior competition recently.

Baltzegar is originally from San Angelo, Texas, but considers home Augusta, Georgia, and joined the Army three years ago, two of which have been in Japan. Okinawa is his first duty station.

Q: What prompted you to join the Army?

A: I joined for the financial opportunities and to serve my country. I wasn’t doing so good at the time right out of high school. I was trying to pay my way through college, going to school in the morning, working all afternoon and night, and not getting enough time to study, then doing it all over again day in, day out. It was an hour-and-a-half commute to school in traffic, school, then working at Ross. Two semesters of that and I was done. I had a girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, and I knew I needed something a bit more stable.

Q: So are you happy with your decision?

A: I’m glad I made the decision to join. Ever since I joined there has been a little more foundation than just the paycheck. I like the job that I’m doing, and it is important that we are supporting the warfighter.

Q: What is it about the job working with satellites that you enjoy?

A: It’s more knowledge-based than a lot of typical jobs in the military. I don’t know how far I could stray from my field and still like the Army. There’s a lot that I’ve learned that will definitely crossover into the civilian side eventually, which is the ultimate goal.

Q: What is the ultimate goal?

A: I want to go back to school and get my bachelors in the aeronautical or a space-related field, then go from there.

Q: Why did you go out for Best Warrior?

A: To challenge myself amongst the best. It’s just another stepping-stone in career progression. I can say I did it.

Q: How do you feel you did?

A: Well, I didn’t win, but I felt I was pretty proficient in the same tasks as my fellow Soldiers. I gave it my best.

Q: How do you feel these competitions challenge you mentally and physically?

A: A lot of it is the mental game. Anybody can go out and walk 12 miles, but a lot of people aren’t going to do it and that’s really what it comes down to is you looking at a spot on the road and knowing in your mind you can get there.

Q: How has Okinawa been thus far?

A: Okinawa is kind of like Japan’s Hawaii. COVID has been rough on Japan though. The country is still in a state of emergency. We are a big economic support to them there, so we all try to order takeout food to support the local businesses. It’s definitely a beautiful place, with beautiful beaches. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend visiting.

Q: What hobbies and sports do you partake in over there?

A: I go to the beach, hiking, outdoors stuff.

Q; What have you gotten out of the cultural experience over there?

A: Japanese people are very respectful. The culture revolves around it. You bow when you are greeting someone. Seniority really matters. They are always saying thank you and please. Japanese are very devoted to their work. Sometimes I appreciate the culture more so than in America.

Baltzegar has a year left in Japan then his enlistment contract is up. He will either reenlist or ETS and go back to school.