CAMP ARIFJAN, KUWAIT –
The United States provides opportunities for people from all walks of life. Two Soldiers deployed to Kuwait with 184th Sustainment Command may have been born and raised in different nations, but they chose to serve in the U.S. Army.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Armstrong came to pursue university education.
“I came to the states in 2007 from Frinton-On-Sea, England. I was raised there. I received a full scholarship to Jackson State University for tennis.”
But Armstrong liked the U.S., so he found a way to stay and pursue his Master’s degree.
“During my college degrees I wanted to stay in America so I joined the Army Reserves,” he said. “I wanted to stay in America and it was the perfect opportunity: joining the military and becoming a paratrooper.”
Staff Sgt. Zafar Iqbal also came to Mississippi the hopes of continuing his education.
“I was born and raised in Bangladesh. I’ve been in the states since 2004,” Iqbal said. “I came for school. I began at University of Southern Mississippi, but ended up at Independence University in Utah where I studied to become a respiratory therapist.”
Respiratory therapists work with patients who have difficulty breathing, particularly those who have illnesses dealing with their lungs. Most importantly, they take care of people, which is what the National Guard does. The concern for people during one of the most devastating hurricanes in the South that Iqbal saw from Guardsmen was what ultimately motivated him to join.
“When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, I lived on the coast. Everyone knows the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. After the hurricane, a lot of volunteers came out. I volunteered also.“ he said. “While I was volunteering I met a lot of people from different places. This was when I saw the National Guard helping. They helped people move and they went to New Orleans to help also. After I saw this, I talked with some people and decided I wanted to join.”
Armstrong began his deployment before the 184th did.
“I got into this role because I wasn’t needed in Afghanistan so I stayed here with 143d [Sustainment Command.] They gave me an opportunity to work with Headquarters Company ... and now I’m working with the 184th in facility maintenance operations noncommissioned officer.”
Both Soldiers work in the facilities management section, performing maintenance for building and escorting contractors for specific maintenance work.
“I assist with work orders and facility operations. We also escort contractors and assess units reported to need repair to be sure that they are actually broken,” said Armstrong.
Their section noncommissioned officer in charge, Master Sgt. Deangelis Taylor, also serves as the unit fleet manager, so they also conduct vehicle maintenance.
"Another big thing is we manage the vehicles for the unit because Master Sgt. Taylor is the fleet manager. It’s just like doing rental cars. People come sign vehicles out and we have to maintain the vehicle and monitor the odometer,” said Iqbal.
When they are not at work, they also share common interests.
“We both like playing soccer and participating in soccer tournaments. We coached Team Glory together,” Armstrong said.
This rotation has helped Iqbal because performing in an active duty capacity provides more hands-on experience than drill does.
“This is my first deployment. With us being National Guard, it’s part-time. We don’t have a lot to of time to do our actual job. But when you’re deployed you’re on active orders, it makes a big difference.”
Armstrong says the rotation has helped him grow as a noncommissioned officer.
“I was complacent before this deployment. Getting out of my comfort zone made me a better senior noncommissioned officer and re-established my drive to accomplish my goals in the United States Army.”