Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Stone
43rd Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs Office
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The command, “raise your right hand and repeat after me,” was given as Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Soldiers watched 23 members of 43rd Sustainment Brigade re-enlist, Oct. 2.
Col. Todd Heussner, commander, 43rd SB, U.S. Central Command Materiel Recovery Element, administered the oath of enlistment to the group.
“I have done quite a few (re-enlistments), but it’s always an honor when someone comes and (says), ‘Hey, I’d like you to do this,’ because it’s such a monumental decision,” said Heussner.
The ceremony was organized by Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Cabana, senior career counselor, 43rd SB.
“The book says, ‘Re-enlist, on a long-term basis, sufficient numbers of highly-qualified active Army Soldiers;’ I call it taking care of Soldiers,” said Cabana.
There was a total of 82 years of service added, more than $41,000 in re-enlistment bonuses earned, and five noncommissioned officers contracted into indefinite status, Cabana said.
One of the re-enlisting Soldiers had a relative in attendance. Spc. Kelun Babauta, a native of Kagman III, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, had her aunt, Warrant Officer Maylynn Babauta, who is also serving on Kandahar Airfield, in attendance.
Kelun Babauta wants to stay at Fort Carson and was able to stipulate that in her re-enlistment contract.
“Even though I hate the cold, Fort Carson is very nice,” she said. “I also want to attend the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.”
She plans to apply for the Army’s “Green to Gold” program, and pursue a dual master’s degree in public administration and criminal justice. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics and multimedia from Bangkok University International College.
Kelun Babauta said a deployment can be a positive thing.
“It’s my first deployment, my first re-enlistment,” she said. “I’ve done so much being out here. I competed in a Soldier of the Month board and won. I attended a promotion board and got my (promotable status). I wanted it to be a big bang out here.”
Her attitude is not an isolated case, according to Heussner.
“They’re proud of themselves; they like their teammates, and they know what they do is important,” Heussner said. “To me, that’s the best gauge of the morale of the unit. If people want to stay … then that means that as a leader, as an organization, we’re doing the right thing. We’re taking care of people. Ultimately, that is a measure of success for me.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Traylor, senior enlisted leader, 43rd SB, said he appreciates the chance to have a mass re-enlistment ceremony.
“Any time that we get an opportunity to retain good quality Soldiers in the United States Army, particularly a large group, that’s a great day for the Army, our organization and for those individuals,” said Traylor.