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Feature Stories

NEWS | July 31, 2020

Pfc. Vivianne Atencio, Chinook Mechanic

By Story by Sgt. Sydney Mariette 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade

Pfc. Vivianne Atencio first took up a wrench in an automotive class while attending Truckee Meadows Community College. The drive came from wanting to understand the needs of her car better.

“I got mad because I felt like I was always getting ripped off when I would take my car in for an oil change,” said Atencio. “I felt like I would walk in and they would think ‘she doesn’t know what she’s here for, so we’re going to charge her for things she doesn’t need’.”

Taking Auto 101 didn’t fulfil any of her degree requirements but it did empower her to make independent decisions in the maintenance world from then on.

“It was really hard but it was one of those things where I knew I could do it if I applied myself,” said Atencio. “And then I kind of liked it, because I like working with my hands more than I do writing or being on a computer.”

A few years later when she decided to join the Nevada National Guard, she jumped at the chance to work on aircraft, wanting to continue to develop her mechanical skills and the opportunity to fly in a helicopter was definitely a bonus.

“I really like aviation, I like the way that it’s run and I like getting to fly,” said Atencio. “The community is really fun.”

Having only enlisted in January 2019, Atencio is still incredibly new to the U.S. Army, her role as a CH-47 Helicopter Repairer (15U), and serving in a deployed environment. However, completing Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, and deployment back to back was the best scenario in her opinion.

“It’s the best way for me to learn my job, otherwise it would have been once a month [at drill] and crawling verses what I am doing here which is running,” said Atencio. “I’ve had really great on the job training from my peers as well.”

With the end of her first deployment on the horizon, Atencio is looking forward to returning to Reno, Nevada, seeing family’s dog, Buddha, and preparing for school in the spring at Montana State University where she will complete her degrees in education and math. The National Guard education benefits were her initial draw to military service but confidence in her skills as a mechanic and the friendships she’s made in the last year have been unanticipated benefits that she continues to enjoy.