By Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert; 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsNovember 19, 2007
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - A Soldier from the 615th Aviation Support "Cold Steel" Battalion had a ton of love for the Soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.
A ton and a half to be more accurate.
Spc. Renaldo Khan, a utilities equipment repairer by trade, spent the past 12 months working in the 1st ACB mailroom at Camp Taji, Iraq, and helped process more than a ton-and-a-half of mail for the brigade's Soldiers, including mail from their loved ones in the states.
This is the second Iraq deployment for the Brooklyn, N.Y., native who joined the Army in 2003.
"I joined the Army for the college benefits and to find direction in my life," Khan said.
His family, particularly his mother, Patsy Khan, wasn't entirely happy with his decision.
"She was scared about me joining the Army, but she has always been very supportive," Khan said. "She didn't think about the possibility of me coming (to Iraq), and the first time I deployed she was upset and worried about it. This time, she was still worried but it was easier for her knowing that I had done it before."
Khan himself had the same sentiments about deploying to Iraq.
"I was scared the first time I deployed here," Khan said. "It was the first time I had left home for that long. This time, I had the right mindset for the deployment, because I had been here before. It was much easier to deploy."
He has motivated other Soldiers in his unit, as well, said Oklahoma City, Okla., native Staff Sgt. Cynthia Ballinger, the senior Human Resources sergeant for 615th ASB and Khan's supervisor.
"His leadership skills have set him apart," Ballinger said. "Other Soldiers naturally follow him. He motivates the Soldiers in my office to do (physical training). He gives up his personal time to do that."
Khan learned early on in this deployment that he would not be doing the job he trained for, which is repairing air conditioning units. He made the adjustment quickly.
"I was happy about working in the brigade mailroom," he said. "I thought it would be a nice change of pace. I think every job in the Army is important. Processing mail may seem insignificant to some, but it is important because it helps Soldiers keep communication with their families."
Although he doesn't plan to make the Army a career, he said he is grateful for the life experience he has gained.
"I will stay in long enough to continue building the good foundation the Army has provided for me and for my future," he said.
He added that working in the mailroom led to experiences that he will remember long after the deployment and his stint in the military end.
"The bonds that you make - I might have been in this unit for years and never met or spoken with the people I met while working in the mailroom. Those bonds will last a lifetime."