Face of Defense: Former Sailor Builds Future as Soldier
By Army Pvt. Christopher McKenna
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP STRIKER, Iraq, July 1, 2008 During his 13 years in the Navy, Craig Bedard learned how to fight fires. He transitioned to the Army to continue serving his country and to learn a new skill he hopes to practice after his time in the military comes to an end.
Army Staff Sgt. Craig Bedard, force protection noncommissioned officer in charge for the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, writes down information for surveillance system maintenance in his office at Camp Striker, Iraq, June 25, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Christopher McKenna, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Now an Army staff sergeant, Bedard works as the force protection noncommissioned officer in charge for the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team. He conducts assessments to make sure things are running smoothly with the systems at different bases. He said his work, though much different from his years as a firefighter with the Navy, is valuable to him.
“Dealing with surveillance systems is something I plan to continue doing outside of the military,” Bedard said. “I’m looking into becoming an aerostat technician at the U.S.-Mexico border [as a field service representative],” he said.
This is Bedard’s first deployment since transitioning to the Army two and a half years ago. He made the transition through a program known as “Blue to Green,” which helped him continue his service uninterrupted.
“I track and maintain all the surveillance systems in the [area of operations], so if there is an issue, they will call me and I can try and bring a solution to the problem at the lowest level possible,” Bedard said. “If that’s not possible, then I will get the field service representative contractors and send them out to fix it.”
Bedard said he dreamed of serving his country early on in life.
“It was around my junior year of high school when I had a good idea of what I was going to do,” Bedard said. “I went into the Navy directly out of high school and served nearly 13 years as a fireman or, as the Navy calls it, a damage control man.”
From a primarily Navy family, the Cranston, R.I., native was influenced by his uncles to join the military in 1992. He said his family stood behind his decision and continues to support him staying.
Bedard said he understands, though, that deployments are trying times for family members, having served many deployments during his time in the Navy.
“While in the Navy, I did five deployments here to Iraq, and also deployed to Europe, Asia, Russia and South America,” he said. “Each deployment was six months long.”
His mission here is a drastic change from fighting fires in the Navy, Bedard said, but he added that he is pleasantly surprised with this deployment.
Bedard noted that living in a containerized housing unit here and eating at a dining facility every day is not what he expected from this deployment.
“The quality of life is much better than I anticipated,” he said. “I had heard stories from people who were out here for the invasion, and I was expecting to be living in a tent, out of a bag and eating three [field-ration meals] a day.”
(Army Pvt. Christopher McKenna serves in the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)