By Story by Sgt. Jermaine Jackson
U.S. Army Central
As fighter jets scream overhead and iconic planes, such as the C-130, taxi down the runway at Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar, the Army is working to consolidate equipment and supplies from various bases throughout the Middle East as outposts and other strongholds begin to close. Enter the 310th Construction Management Team based in Bullville, New York. Soldiers of the 310th CMT are working diligently to provide oversight and vision for the work required. Among them is Army Sgt. Zjana Ray who is aiming to make his mark.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Manhattan, Ray enlisted as a technical engineer and has been a part of the Army Reserve for over three years. He joined to help those around him and be a part of something bigger than himself.
"From a young age I've always enjoyed helping people," said Ray. "I wanted to work towards a purpose. Enlisting seemed like the natural choice."
Technical Engineers(12T) play a key role in construction for the Army, with responsibilities including land surveying, cartography and construction planning. Ray chose the job as it provides a taste of different job environments, and it gives him a chance to learn and grow skills relevant to his future goals.
"I haven't been dissapointed so far," said Ray. "I must've watched over twenty of the different videos on what the different jobs are like. It just seemed like the perfect balance between office work and working outside."
The sergeant is on his first deployment to the Middle East, and his current assignment in theater is to a force protection team. His responsibilities include working with the local national contractors who assist with the construction projects. He said through daily interaction he enjoys the cultural differences of the local team and also shares some of the knowledge he has acquired over his career.
"Some of the ideas that I had coming out here weren't correct; the similarities to garrison were shocking," said Ray. "At the same time, I'm still getting to experience different cultures from the local nationals, and that's always an eye opening experience."
He also coordinates equipment delivery, supply orders, and site surveys. The rotation allows him to apply all of the training he has received to real world situations as the Army moves toward a more cost effective, efficient method of supporting its allies.
"I'm pretty fortunate," said Ray. "While I wasn't fully prepared prior to coming here, I can feel myself growing into my job and getting more comfortable with certain aspects of being a Tango."
As an noncomissioned officer, Ray enjoys leading his troops by passing down the knowledge and experience he has gained. He plans to teach and mentor junior Soldiers in his home unit, attend drill sergeant school upon return to the states, and pursue a career in network engineering.
"I think it's important that we go back and push this information down," said Ray. "We're given the opportunity to respect hundreds of years of history. I want to continue that culture and that perseverance. The military is not something for the everyday person, you have to truly be selfless and dedicated."
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION