FORT STEWART, Ga. — U.S. Army Sgt. Anabelle Gearhart, an Alabama native, assigned to the “Panther Battalion”, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, joined the Army four years ago to pursue better opportunities and a different lifestyle the military offered, leading her into the journey of becoming a tank gunner.
“I never had the intention of joining the military,” said Gearhart. “I woke up one day … and I wanted to push my limits, so I went to my recruiter. I had no idea what a tanker was, and he showed me videos of tanks firing and I was like ‘That’s pretty cool. I want to do that.’”
Coming from a military family, Gearhart wanted to see for herself just how challenging the military can be and push her limits. While the lifestyle was new to her, working with weapons was not. As a civilian she worked at a gun factory making guns. But rather than continue to make guns, she wanted to shoot them instead.
During her process to enlist, one of Gearhart’s mentors was her recruiter. The recruiter treated Gearhart and all other applicants like family, providing them with advice and answers whenever they needed it. He inspired her to accomplish anything she puts her mind to.
“He helped me get in,” said Gearhart. “He would always tell me to ‘Keep going, keep going; no matter what, keep going.’ He passed away two years ago, and everyday I remind myself to keep pushing, keep going. I can get more out of this, I can do more. I keep pushing myself everyday to be a better person. He inspires me to be that better person to keep going and never give up.”
For Gearhart, one of her goals is to attend the Master Gunner Common Core at Fort Benning, Georgia, and learn everything to do with her job to become a master of her craft. If given the opportunity to attend and pass the school, she wants to teach others who may attend and after the Army, if possible, to continue working on tanks on the civilian side.
In the military, Gearhart learned how to adapt and make the most out of things. She tells tankers just beginning their careers to keep going and pursue what they want and not to stop. Her time as a tanker has taught her many lessons, giving her memories for a lifetime and meaning that everything she has been through has been worth it.
“Sgt. Gearhart displays the spirit of our company as one of our noncommissioned officers through and through," said Capt. Benjamin James, commander of Alpha Company, 2nd Bn., 69th AR, 2nd ABCT. "During the modernization of process of our battalion in the "Spartan Brigade," 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID, she aggressively pursued challenges, attacked them with discipline, and could always be relied upon to help her subordinates, peers, or leaders. We're lucky to have her as part of our team.”