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Feature Stories

NEWS | Oct. 22, 2021

Why I serve: ‘It helped me unlock my potential’

By Sgt. 1st Class Mary Katzenberger 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command

Spc. Yacob I. Warsame does not fold in the face of adversity.

“When I was younger … I approached a challenge and thought it was unbearable, but when I joined the Army I had a big challenge ahead of me and it allowed me to step back from the challenge and actually attack it with an open mind, with a great perseverance, and great resilience,” the signal support systems specialist said.

Warsame, 21, is currently assigned to the Fort Bragg, North Carolina, based 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and has been deployed here since August supporting the 1st Theater Sustainment Command’s Operational Command Post. 1st TSC is responsible for sustainment operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

The Denver, Colorado, native took a few moments away from his work ensuring that automation systems and networks are up and running to talk about why he serves.

Faith and challenges

Like many athletically-inclined youths, Warsame hoped to land an athletic scholarship after he graduated from high school. The avid runner wanted to run track while earning a degree in computer programming.

When the hoped for opportunity did not materialize, Warsame decided to join the military because he saw it as an opportunity to gain technical computer skills before studying the subject in college. He said his parents, Ismail and Raxmn Warsame, were thrilled by his choice.

“They were actually excited for me to join because they wanted me to do something that would help me progress in life,” he said. “They wanted me to be uncomfortable to find myself.”

Warsame enlisted on Aug. 16, 2019, and shipped out of Colorado in October to attend basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He said he expected the physical trials that lay ahead of him, but not the mental challenges that came to pass.

While the Soldier was away from home for the first time in his life, his mother passed away. Warsame said he relied on his Muslim faith to persevere.

“In my religion we believe that death is promised to everybody, so that kept me level-headed,” he said. “I didn’t think it was going to be so soon—I thought I was going to see her after basic—but I believe she was ready to go because she was peaceful, It was her time to go.”

After basic training Warsame was able to see his father and four siblings over block leave.

“That helped me,” Warsame said. “I sat down with my father and my family and we came together when she died, and it boosted me a little bit, and it gave me more drive to be better.”

He said that boost propelled him through advanced individual training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and that the drive to achieve served him well while attempting Army Ranger Assessment and Selection at Fort Benning, Georgia, immediately following AIT.

“That challenge really hit me like a bus, because I really didn’t know what I was getting into at first,” Warsame said. “The first four weeks … they basically just beat you down, they want to see who is going to quit, who is going to stay and persevere through challenges.”

The Soldier said he quickly adapted to the physical and mental challenges of the selection process. He laughs as he recalls his biggest challenge ended up being land navigation.

Warsame said he kept trying, but only failed to find three out of four points during a retest. He was recycled and had the option to rest for a month, but decided to jump right back in. He ended up passing land navigation and getting close to graduating.

The Soldier was ultimately one of 50 Soldiers dropped on a single day for possessing contraband—the cadre discovered ibuprofen in his personal belongings during a health and welfare inspection. Warsame is not bitter, though. He said he understands now that the code of ethics in that course is just really high.

“Even though I got dropped, it felt great,” Warsame said. “I want to go back [and] I know if I went back next week I’d be able to pass that course.”

Warsame said the experience of failing and then trying again helped him tap into inner-resources he did not think he possessed.

“I found out that I have more potential than I was willing to give myself,” he said. “The military … showed me that you can be uncomfortable and be comfortable … and you can push yourself to places that you didn’t think [you could go].

“It helped me unlock my potential,” Warsame continued.

‘They need us’

When Warsame looks to the future, he sees himself becoming Ranger-qualified, and earning his Special Forces tab. In the meantime, he continues to push himself to achieve new goals.

On Oct. 10, Warsame placed second overall in the Army Ten-Miler Shadow Run here with a time of one hour, six minutes, and 11 seconds.

The Soldier said he is excited about his role as a signal support systems specialist.

“If [sustainers] are not able to use their workstations, how are they going to be able to work,” Warsame said. “Their computer systems are their weapon systems.”

And, Warsame is excited about being part of something greater than himself.

“When I first got here I didn’t see how important we are but [the 3rd ESC] actually support all of the theater with sustainment,” he continued. “We’re actually supporting a lot of people who need help—they need us.”