Face of Defense: Soldier Uses Experience to Benefit Others
By Army Pfc. Christopher McKenna
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq, Aug. 18, 2008 Having earned a Combat Action Badge during his previous deployment and being the only soldier in his platoon to have returned enemy fire, Pfc. James Quesada, an Army mechanic, uses his experience and his knowledge of weapon systems to benefit others.
Army Pfc. James Quesada, a gunner assigned to the 101st Airborne Division’s Company G, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, readies straps to tie down landing zone mats at Patrol Base Lutifiyah, Iraq, in preparation for a handover of the base from coalition forces to the Iraqi army. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Christopher McKenna, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Quesada deployed to Iraq from Germany in 2006, and later, when he got to Fort Campbell, Ky., he was hand-picked by the first sergeant to be a part of the distribution platoon as a gunner, said Quesada, a native of Jonesboro, Ark., assigned to the 101st Airborne Division’s Company G, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
“I have gunned the entire deployment, and we have only taken fire once,” he said. “In a nutshell, I am out there pulling security for the convoys, and when it comes to getting stuff done, we all pitch in.”
The experience he gained from his previous deployment made him a vital asset in molding the minds of the new gunners to his company.
“I take all the new gunners that come in and train them, making sure to get them up to speed so that if I ever go down or go on leave, that they will have no issues in taking my spot,” Quesada said.
“He is very mission-minded and focused; he does what he is told to do, and does it with competence,” said Philadelphia native Army Sgt. Jonathan Lehman, a Company G squad leader. “He’s definitely one of the best gunners in the company, if not the entire battalion.”
With more than three years in the Army, the recently married Quesada is weighing his options for his future.
“Before I got married, I only had to worry about what was good for me, but now I am thinking from a different perspective,” Quesada said. “I enjoy what I am doing, but for me to continue doing it really depends on how my wife handles this deployment.”
If he does choose to stay in the Army after this deployment, he said, it would be to see and experience new things.
“The Army has given me the opportunity to grow as a person and become more diverse, giving me the opportunity to both lead and follow,” he said. “I think that going out to the civilian side, I will have a different perspective. No matter how hard things seem to be, they can always get worse.”
(Army Pfc. Christopher McKenna serves in the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)