By Spc. Nadia R. Young, Task Force SaberJuly 13, 2010
Pfc. David Stout, Profile of a Task Force Destiny Soldier Story by Spc. Nadia R. Young D Troop, 2-17th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Saber, Task Force Destiny U.S. Army Aviation relies heavily on its maintainers. Helicopter maintenance troopers are the backbone of any aviation unit and are the most vital asset. Aviation units require the support, hard work and dedication of everybody involved. Without the maintenance companies, the unit would cease to operate. Pfc. David Stout, an Aircraft Armament, Electronic, and Avionic Systems repairer with Delta Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Campbell, Ky. is a Soldier responsible for conducting maintenance on the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter supporting the missions that the Task Force's aircraft and pilots are charged with. Pfc. Stout recalls, "I came in to advance my education, and where I was before really wouldn't allow me to go to college or have any job like what I'm doing right now." I wanted to do better things for myself, improve my quality of life on my own, by myself and get a real chance to see the world. Here, I get paid to travel," said Stout. Stout did not have to travel very far; he's originally from Elizabethtown, Ky. He talked about walking into the recruiter's office a year and a half ago, "I really only knew that I wanted to work with aircraft. Getting so close to home just happened to work to my advantage." He said he initially tried to enlist in the Air Force and was told they had no aviation jobs open. However, he is very happy with his decision to enlist in the Army instead. "I definitely have not regretted the decision to come into the Army." When asked how his job differs in Garrison versus in theater, he replied, "In Garrison, unless there is training going on with the aircraft, there can be a lot of times when we don't have as much to do, but now that we are deployed, we stay really busy while we're here. I go home at night feeling like I earned my paycheck and I contributed to the mission. I'm completely exhausted when I leave, but it feels really good." Since his arrival in theater, he says he has surprised himself with how easy it was for him to pick up all of the different aspects of his job. "I am really good at the armament and avionics part of the aircraft, and I find myself breezing through maintenance checks." He says that while those tasks are not very difficult, he still has a lot of weaknesses to work on. "I'm still new at the radios, and it's something that I have to ask for help with. I'm lucky that I work with a good group, because where I struggle, they can help me learn. I am confident that I'll be an expert with the radios before we go home." Personally, he says that coming into the military had its own struggles, mostly because he wasn't accustomed to taking orders the way he does now. "Physically, the Army wasn't difficult. I had a lot of motivation to get through basic training, but coming to Fort Campbell was a whole new ball game ... You kind of get thrown into your duty station and just told to do as they say, and you don't always know what's going on, or why things are the way they are. The Army can throw a lot of extra stuff your way. You are just expected to follow, and that was really hard to do at first. It's second nature now." In his free time, Stout is always in the gym. "I'm really trying to get above a 300 (physical training test score) while I'm here. I have a lot more time to focus on staying physically fit, so I'm going to use it," said Stout In Garrison, he says you won't find him indoors. "I work on cars all the time at home, but I also love to do anything exciting outside. I really like hiking and fishing. I've been diving and rafting before, and I went sky-diving before we left. That was the most fun I've ever had," said Stout Stout has an older brother who is also in the Army. Daniel Stout, who is a Sergeant also serving in Afghanistan, has been in the Army for six years. When asked how his family feels about his decision to enlist, he says that his family makes things easy for him. "My parents are really proud of what I am doing. They were a little scared, because they knew that both of us would be deployed at the same time, but they were completely supportive of my choices." Stout says that they try to send both brothers packages about once a week. "I wasn't doing the right things before I joined, and the idea of where I could have headed really scared my mom. I dropped out of college and didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. My mom was really happy for me when I told her that I talked to the recruiter because she knew I would succeed and finally stop doing the things that were going to get me in trouble." Stout says that things have gone smoothly since the unit's arrival in Afghanistan. "It's been a lot of work, but definitely not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Our living conditions are really good here, and it's definitely better than what I imagined." He was really surprised by all of the sand storms out here, "they just add to the memories that I will take with me, and so far, I have a lot of good memories, including all of my new friends. It all definitely helps in making the time pass quickly." While here, he has the opportunity to work with people from all over the world. "It's really cool, because not only are aviation units here from the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, but we have an Australian aviation unit not far from us, too. Seeing all of the different uniforms from all over the world is really interesting." Looking back on his time in the Army, Stout says there were times that were very difficult being away from his family, especially in Advanced Individual Training, "but I enjoy every minute of it to be completely honest with you." Stout's short-term goals are to get promoted to specialist and enroll in civilian education while in theater, in addition to improving his physical fitness level and finish his military correspondence courses. "I really want to be as proficient in my MOS (military occupational specialty) as possible. I would also like to get promoted to sergeant while I'm in the Army, but my long-term goal is to do something in aeronautics and work for NASA as an avionics installation technician. The only way to do that is to do my absolute best at work and get back into college." Stout is looking forward to the redeployment back to Fort Campbell, and is considering what he wants to do when the unit returns. "I definitely want to see my family for a little bit, but I think that I just really want to sleep in for a few days," he adds jokingly. Stout says he is still unsure about his Army career. "Even though I really like the Army, I still don't know if I want to stay in for the full 20 years. I really want to get my degree and work for NASA. I've loved aviation since I was little, and I don't want to pass up the opportunity if I get lucky enough for it to come my way, but if it doesn't come up, the Army's not such a bad place to be. I've definitely had an awesome experience." I have had a lot of fun the past two years, and I'm doing my best to stay positive, continue to have a lot of fun, and be the best Soldier that I can. If I only stay in for a few more years, then I will always look back and say that it was the best time that I've ever had. I even got an all-expenses-paid trip to Afghanistan!"