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Feature Stories

NEWS | March 9, 2022

New operations specialist brings unique skills to First Team

By Barbara Gersna, 1st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs 1st Theater Sustainment Command

He left the Island of Jamaica in 1989 when he was 18 and moved to Yonkers, New York, where he got a job working for the Verizon Corporation but wanted a change.

For Andrew Roach, operations specialist, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, that change came when he enlisted in the Army February 12, 1998.

“I really wanted to be a military policeman,” Roach said.

He walked away from the recruiting station, the first time, disappointed because they didn’t need any more MPs. The Army ended up recruiting Roach as an air traffic controller instead.

“They told me that it would be exciting and that I could jump out of airplanes,” he said.

After completing Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training and jump school, he was excited to be a part of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. From there, he served at Army installations with airfields, including Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, Camp Red Cloud, Korea, and Wurzburg and Ansbach, Germany.

“I joined as a private and retired as a chief warrant officer 3,” Roach said.

He grew in his career, and after obtaining the rank of sergeant first class, he became a warrant officer.

“Being an air traffic controller was both exciting and stressful at times,” he said.

During his career serving in the Army, Roach worked at the company level, corps level, and theater level. He enjoyed the work, which provided him with a unique skill set. The job required him to analyze the separation of airways and determine how to synchronize fires from the ground and the air.

“I would sit in an air traffic control tower, or a tactical control tower, and control the landing area when aircraft dropped equipment or troops while monitoring traffic and weather,” he said

In Afghanistan and Iraq, he took over airfields with teams.

“I am jump and pathfinder certified, which enabled me to establish a landing site and deploy equipment to run the airfield and control the air space and traffic,” he said.

Roach deployed several times during his time in the Army. His first deployment was a 2002 peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.

He also deployed to Pakistan after an earthquake, once to Iraq and four times to Afghanistan.

He missed the birth of one of his children during a 2012-13 deployment to Kunduz, Afghanistan, while assigned to U.S. Army Regional Command North.

“This was a unique deployment in that I served with all of the European NATO forces,” Roach said. “It was a very small compound and I lived with Germans, Belgians, and French. This provided many cultural experiences.”

Missing the birth of his child was difficult, but Roach remembers a team of Joint Special Operations Command Navy surgeons who looked out for him.

“They kind of adopted me and kept me stable,” he said.

Now, the single father of two appreciates being with his two youngest children and providing them stability. His son Jahleel is 8 years old and his daughter Jahzara is 9. The Elizabethtown family enjoys spending time outdoors together biking and hiking. Roach also enjoys golfing, snorkeling and playing soccer and cricket.

He keeps his culture alive, cooking Jamaican food, speaking in the Jamaican dialect, listening to reggae music, and visiting the island.

The operations specialist has a bucket list too.

“I would like to hike the Appalachian Trail, in addition to cycling across some of the United States, hiking the Glacier National Park, owning a successful business and fluently speaking Deutch,” he said.

He would also like to visit Israel again because he enjoyed the spirituality in that country.

“I completed two tours almost consecutively and embraced the history and culture in a diverse and unique perspective,” he said.

His education and military experience prepared him to work in the 1st TSC’s Operations Center where he manages, tracks, and receives operations for both garrison and contingency. He provides updates to the command team and higher headquarters.

Roach is glad to be working with the Army again after working two years for the City of Austin, Texas, as an airport operations specialist once he retired from the Army.

Roach didn’t realize how much he liked working in an organization that does strategic, operational planning, and he also likes being mission-focused.

“We have a bigger task and purpose within the Army, and that’s what I felt was missing,” he said.

Happy to be a new team member, he believes that this leap of faith, which brought him back to the Army, was right for his family.

“Folks who I’ve engaged with so far have been wonderful and there is a positive command climate,” he said. “I always believe that if I trust God I will never fail.”