Face of Defense: Broadcaster Lets Her Voice Be Heard
By Air Force 1st Lt. Mark Lazane
Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Oct. 19, 2010 Air Force Staff Sgt. Alana Ingram isn’t afraid to let her voice be heard.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Alana Ingram prepares to interview Army Spc. Timothy Black at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2010. U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Mark Lazane
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
She’d better not be. It’s her job.
Ingram is a broadcast producer deployed to American Forces Network Afghanistan from the AFN affiliate at the Royal Air Force base in Feltwell, England.
The Las Vegas native, who’s nearing the end of her second deployment, said assertiveness was ingrained in her throughout her childhood, most notably by her mother.
“My mom was my rock growing up,” she said. “She taught me to be strong, independent and outspoken. I use every single one of those things every day in the Air Force. The strength my mom had when she was raising me is something I’ve always looked up to, and it’s something I’ve tried to emulate as much as I can as an adult.”
Besides her mother, other key influencers helped to make Ingram the person she is today.
“My grandfather, a U.S. Army Korean War veteran, is someone I definitely looked up to growing up,” she said. “I never felt pressured that I had any sort of family legacy to carry on, but I always knew I wanted to do something that would make him proud, and this is it. But that’s not the only reason I joined the Air Force. I wanted to do something bigger than what the majority of those around me were doing after we graduated high school.”
Though it would be natural for any parents to be apprehensive about letting their daughter run off and join the military at 18 years old, Ingram said, her family never showed it.
“When I decided to join the Air Force back in 2001, my parents were immensely proud and very supportive,” Ingram said. “They just wanted me to do something that would make me happy. I think they’ve always been -- my mom, especially -- a little saddened that I wasn’t at home, but that doesn’t stop them from supporting me as much as they can throughout my career.”
Her decision has taken her to several different countries, she noted, and has given her incalculable experiences to carry on throughout her life.
“There have been so many things I’ve been able to accomplish over the past nine and a half years that I’m proud of,” she said. "My two combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, however, stand out for me. We all think we’re strong people, that we can handle all things that come our way, but you sometimes don’t get a chance to find out.
“I think I came out of my first deployment, and I will come out of this deployment, a much stronger person and much more sure of myself,” she continued. “I’ll always be proud I was able to serve my country in wartime.”
Though Ingram said she cherishes the experiences and lessons she has had over the past decade, a new chapter is about to unfold in her life and the life of her daughter. Early next year, Ingram will leave the Air Force after 10 years of active-duty service and plans to complete her college education and eventually teach high school history and English.
“Leaving the military will be hard, but I’m grateful that being in the military has given me some great tools I’ll use my whole life, especially when I become a teacher,” she said. “The Air Force has given me some really valuable ‘people’ skills, especially this particular job, as I’ve had the opportunity to train a lot of broadcasters. I think that will help me when I eventually transition into a classroom environment, and I have to deal with several students at once, each with differing personalities, and get results from them.”
Ingram said she learned another lesson from her mother early in life that has guided her decision making.
“I learned early on to stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone,” she said. “It’s always given me a moral ground and guide to focus on. My mom always wanted me to be my own person, and I think that really helped push me to be independent, and I’m thankful for that lesson.”
Ever the instructor, Ingram has words of advice for those coming into the military today.
“No matter how long you’re in, whether it’s two weeks or 20 years, everything will change with time,” she said. “But rest assured [that] what you do while you’re in the military will define you forever. Your experience in the military will change you, so let it change you for the better.”