When Spc. Morgan Miller asked Sgt. Mariah Robinson to join her on a deployment, Robinson said yes even though she’d only known Miller for a short time.
The University of Nebraska students – part of the Nebraska National Guard’s Kearney-based 734th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion – are now at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, as part of Task Force Liberty, to assist thousands of at-risk Afghans reach safe haven.
“The thing I was the most worried about coming on this deployment was finding where I fit in since this is not my original unit,” said Miller, 19. “I was so worried about being on my own because most of the 734th already knew each other.”
Miller, an intelligence analyst who graduated from advanced individual training less than a year ago, asked Robinson, with whom she had served in another unit.
“When I asked Sgt. Robinson to come on this deployment with me, I knew it was a long shot,” Miller, a Fort Calhoun, Nebraska native, said.
“She's in ROTC back home and was about to get contracted. She said she would think about it, so I didn't hold my breath. She had a life and I totally respected that.”
Robinson, indeed, had a life of her own. Along with being a student and preparing for her commissioning as a United States Army officer, Robinson was in a romantic relationship. Yet, the Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer – which outlines the responsibilities of U.S. Army enlisted leaders – stuck with her.
“All Soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership,” part of the Creed reads. Robinson decided to provide that leadership.
“I was ecstatic when I got the news that she was going to be coming on the deployment with me. It was the first time I was excited to be leaving home,” Miller said. “This deployment wouldn't be the same without her.”
“It was a difficult decision. That meant putting my education and life on hold. It also meant not being in the ROTC program,” said Robinson, 24, of Chapman, Nebraska.
Despite these sacrifices, Robinson said being on the deployment has offered her the opportunity to learn lessons and have experiences she wouldn’t have gotten had she not volunteered to be with Miller.
At CAS, for example, Robinson not only gets to interact with Afghan guests during her off time, she also takes on additional duties she did not get in her previous deployment. Part of her duty here includes overseeing the intelligence section as well as managing dozens of linguists and interpreters to maximize communications with Afghan travelers.
Additionally, she also gets to directly work with Soldiers.
“I really enjoy being an NCO, my favorite thing is taking care of and being around Soldiers,” Robinson said. “It’s been such a blessing to be around Soldiers and be a positive role-model for them.”
Miller has also gained valuable experiences. As a young Soldier, she writes threat analysis reports to ensure the safety of Soldiers and Afghan guests. Her interactions with the Afghan travelers also helped her experience life through a different lens.
“I helped bring in luggage during in-processing,” Miller said. “It’s humbling to see that they’re coming here for help with just a suitcase. They’re giving up their entire country and the lives that they know.”
Most of all, Miller said she learned from Robinson what it means to be a leader, which prepares her for when she one day steps into that role.
“One of the most important things that I've learned from her is to looking out for others. She is the first line leader for our section and would go to war for us,” Miler said. “By the end of this deployment, I will be a better person because of Sgt. Robinson, and in the future, a better NCO because she showed me what an NCO looks like.
“I want to take all of the things I have learned from her and pass them down because that's what she did for me,” she said.