By Johnnie Frazier, 402nd AFSB Public AffairsMarch 5, 2013
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Col. John Kuenzli, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade commander, had the honor to conduct what he called, "the most meaningful re-enlistment ceremony of his career," on Feb. 28, as he administered the oath of enlistment to his niece, Spc. Lana Stromlund, here at the brigade headquarters.
Stromlund is a member of the Army Reserve's 143rd Dental Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, and is the only dental hygienist at Camp Arifjan.
The 402nd AFSB is one of seven brigades under the Army Sustainment Command, headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. ASC sustains Army and joint forces around the world.
Brig. Gen. Elizabeth Austin of U.S. Army Central, Logistics, attended the ceremony.
While re-enlistments are an important event for all Soldiers who renew their commitment to serve, this one was special for Kuenzli and Stromlund.
In 1999, Stromlund and her brother went to live with Kuenzli and his family. Kuenzli was a captain at the time, in company command overseas in Hanau, Germany.
After two years, and with great disappointment, Kuenzli and his family said farewell to their niece and nephew, as the children went to live with another family member and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. For nearly 10 years they never heard from either of the children because of circumstances.
"When I was a battalion commander, I remember Lana calling on the phone out of the blue on Mother's Day to wish my wife a happy Mother's day; that was the only contact we had," said Kuenzli.
Kuenzli said he accidentally found out about Stromlund's deployment to Kuwait in August 2012 from one of his battalion commanders -- Lt. Col. Manuel Jimenez.
Jimenez had an appointment at the dental clinic and in casual conversation with Stromlund, she revealed she had an uncle in the Army that was an ordnance officer. Jimenez asked what his name was, to see if he knew him.
Stromlund replied: "Colonel John Kuenzli." Shocked, Jimenez told her, "You're not going to believe this -- he's here!"
Jimenez quickly called Kuenzli and said, "Sir, you're not going to guess who I'm standing next to right now."
Kuenzli had known that his niece had enlisted in the Army Reserve, but had no idea that she was deployed to Kuwait at the same time he was.
"Except for that Mother's Day phone call, and then some emails and Facebook exchanges, we still never saw the kids. So this deployment and this command, this Army experience, has been an opportunity for the two of us to reunite and get reacquainted," he said.
"I can't tell you how much that girl pulls on my heart strings. Having two sons, and no more, she knows I view her as the closest thing to a daughter I'll ever have," Kuenzli said. "She knew that when she was living with us, and knows it now. I call her the most powerful specialist in the Army, because she's the only one that can tell a colonel where to go pound sand.
"Given all the time past, and the things I've learned that she's accomplished over the years, largely on her own, I couldn't be more proud of her today, and the ability to re-enlist her in the Army will certainly be a highlight of my command and my career," said Kuenzli.
"I re-enlisted today in the Reserve because of the great experiences I've had so far," Stromlund told the crowd of 402nd AFSB and 143rd Dental Company personnel.
During her first enlistment, she travelled on missions through Central America, the Pacific region, and on board the USS Comfort performing dental work for the Army.
And from a family perspective, Stromlund said she's now looking to re-join the Kuenzli family in Virginia after her redeployment and demobilization. This will allow her to continue college using her benefits as a reservist, and have a place to live.
Stromlund said she wants to finish her education to be a medical laboratory officer. She is also looking at ROTC possibilities to become an Army medical officer.