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Why We Serve: Sailor Swaps ‘Sea Legs’ for Afghanistan Duty

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2007 – Navy Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Sivenson Guerrier exchanged his “sea legs” and became a “landlubber” during a yearlong duty tour in Afghanistan when he volunteered to participate in a pilot program that provided ground-operations training to sailors.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Sivenson Guerrier is telling the story of his service through the Defense Department’s “Why We Serve” public-outreach program. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

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

Guerrier underwent three months of Army training at Fort Bragg, N.C., before deploying to Afghanistan in April 2006 to join a provincial reconstruction team operating in the northeastern part of the country.

“Sailors and airmen are out there, too, in Iraq and Afghanistan, on the ground,” Guerrier pointed out.

The sailor is no stranger to the sea, as he hails from the island-nation of Haiti. The Port-au-Prince-born servicemember returned to the United States from Afghanistan in April.

Guerrier is among 10 servicemembers who served in Iraq, Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa who have been selected to tell the military’s story to the American people at community, business, veterans and other gatherings as part of the Defense Department’s “Why We Serve” public outreach program.

Why We Serve began in fall 2006 and was originally the idea of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace. Representatives from all the service branches participate in the program, which is conducted in quarterly segments. Guerrier and the other servicemembers in his group constitute the fifth iteration since the program began.

The Why We Serve program is important, Guerrier said, because it enables servicemembers to tell the American public about their experiences in the war against global terrorism.

Guerrier said his PRT worked in Kunar province, where it built schools, roads and hospitals. His job was to keep the trucks, generators and other equipment in top condition.

Army training he received included weapons instruction, and it came in handy in Afghanistan, where he often travelled across dangerous territory to repair or recover vehicles that had broken down, Guerrier said.

Duty in Afghanistan also was personally satisfying, Guerrier pointed out, noting that Afghans living in remote villages were especially appreciative when PRT medics attended to their sick children.

“We are doing awesome work there and are helping out the people tremendously,” Guerrier said of his tour in Afghanistan.

Being in the Navy is never boring, Guerrier said, noting he also has served as a security specialist and a military linguist specializing in Creole, the native language of most Haitian residents.

“Where else can you go to experience all those different types of jobs and travel around the world?” Guerrier asked.

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