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Face of Defense: Soldier Finds Her Rhythm at Work, on Dance Floor

By Army Staff Sgt. Carlos M. Burger II
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP ECHO, Iraq, Nov. 18, 2008 – The stress of being deployed to a combat zone can make it challenging for soldiers to find a daily battle rhythm. But one soldier here is taking action to make sure both her personal and professional life stay “in step.”

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Sgt. Lucy Dunham instructs Army Staff Sgt. James Cowell and his partner on proper turning techniques during a salsa class on Camp Echo, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Carlos Burger II

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“When I found out they had salsa night here, I talked to the gym coordinator about starting a class,” said Army Sgt. Lacy Dunham, an imagery analyst with the 4th Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Her job in the team’s intelligence section is to gather images and decipher them, which helps soldiers make clearer choices on the battlefield. She also serves as a security manager.

After work, Dunham trades her combat boots for dancing shoes and teaches the basic steps of salsa, bachata and merengue. “The fun I have, I want others to have too. It is fun to see to see them develop and do things they couldn’t do before,” she said.

The salsa bug bit Dunham on her first deployment, which was to Camp Doha, Kuwait. “I’ve been [dancing] for seven years, but I just recently started teaching,” she said.

Her students said they are grateful for the chance to escape the everyday routine of combat life.

“I think the class is a great idea, especially for soldiers who want something to do, or they’ve never done it before,” said Army Spc. Maria Paulino, 2nd Brigade Combat Team paralegal. “Sergeant Dunham worked with me one on one, and doesn’t put you on the spot. We actually extended the class because we were having so much fun.”

Dunham said her personal battle rhythm helps her balance dancing and work. While she doesn’t consider herself an expert at analyzing or dance, she said, she knows the basics to be successful at both and has found the perfect rhythm to make her deployment as enjoyable as possible.

“Sergeant Dunham is a very enlightened individual,” Army Chief Warrant Officer Ian Holt, Dunham’s supervisor, said. “She will pick up the ball and run with it with minimal guidance. She’s one of the shining stars of our intelligence crew.”

(Staff Sgt. Carlos M. Burger II serves in Multinational Division Center with the 4th Infantry Division‘s 2nd Brigade Combat Team.)

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Multinational Corps Iraq

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