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Face of Defense: Son Inspires Machine Gunner’s Service

By Army Sgt. Michael Sword
Combined Joint Task Force 1 Afghanistan

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Oct. 22, 2012 – Army Spc. Patrick Serna left his hometown of Corcoran, Calif., for only one reason: his son, Mason.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Patrick Serna, a 23-year-old native of Corcoran, Calif., is on his first deployment to Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Sword
  

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

“I knew that if I could join, I could pay bills, go to college and I’ll be able to support him in the long run,” said Serna, a machine gunner for B Battery, 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

When Serna, 23, walked into the recruiter’s office, he already was leaning toward a job in combat arms.

“I had that mindset that ‘I need to go to the Army, be crazy and fight the war,’ but, there were no infantry spots open,” he said. “So I picked this [specialty] because they shoot cannons and it sounds fun.”

As a cannon crewmember, Serna originally learned to be part of a team in charge of firing the battalion’s large artillery pieces. But here, B Battery is in the role of a maneuver unit, and Serna finds himself patrolling the mountains with the nearly 30-pound M240B machine gun in hand.

“I’ll do what I have to for all our guys to get back,” he said.

No matter what he’s doing, Serna said, he continues to enjoy it.

“I want to excel as much as I can in the Army and get what I can get out of it,” he said. “My recruiter told me, ‘If you’re going to be combat arms, make sure you go to college,’ so I’m going to do as much college as I can.”

Growing up, Serna moved up and down the West Coast, so he’s no stranger to being in a new location. But being so far from home, and especially his son, makes life in Afghanistan a little more difficult.

“It sucks being away from him now, but in the long run, it will be better for us,” he said.

When he returns to Bamberg, Germany, the home of B Battery, Serna plans to re-enlist. He said he hopes to end up somewhere closer to home, but even if not, he plans on continuing his military career as a paratrooper.

“Probably my favorite thing about the Army is doing things you can’t just do back home,” he said. “You can’t jump out of planes anywhere else for free.”

 

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