By Army Spc. Allison Churchill
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 2, 2008 - Pfc. Serena Norman took some ribbing from her father and three older brothers -- all combat-arms Army veterans -- when she decided to follow their footsteps into the military. Her family expected her to be the one to go straight to college in pursuit of a medical degree. Instead, she's found a happy medium, providing medical coverage for more than 60 soldiers at Joint Security Station 5.
Norman, of Company C, 589th Brigade Support Battalion, 41st Fires Brigade, supports Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, and the Iraqi police officers who rotate through the station.
"We're one big happy family," she said.
Norman's fellow soldiers said she proved herself to the "Renegades" on early patrols.
"She never complained, and always helped out when we needed," said Army 2nd Lt. Anthony Mathis, a Battery A platoon leader. "You couldn't ask for a better medic."
In August, when the Renegades and Iraqi police took over the joint security station after Georgian soldiers were called home, Norman set up shop. She teaches combat lifesaver classes to the American soldiers and Iraqi police, conducts sick call, provides medical support on patrols and assists with details.
Norman said the camaraderie she finds among the Renegades and police officers always motivates her. She said she gets a kick out of knowing they all have different backgrounds and music preferences, but come together while deployed.
"They'll do anything for each other. It's exactly what I thought the Army would be," she said.
The Los Alamos, N.M., native is torn between the adrenaline rush she feels when treating medical trauma and not wanting to see anyone injured, she said. A highlight, she added, is the satisfaction she gets from knowing the Iraqis are learning valuable skills from the Americans, such as holding patrol briefs and taking combat lifesaver bags on patrols.
"I felt so good after teaching the Iraqis CLS," she said. "I smiled for about a week afterward."
She added that she's also inspired by the initiative the Renegades take in setting up their living space. When she first arrived, she recalled, the soldiers were setting up their air conditioners and she built a locking cabinet for the aid station.
"If we don't do it, who is going to?" she asked.
Norman said she still plans to become a doctor, most likely a trauma surgeon, after completing her military service.
(Army Spc. Allison Churchill serves in the 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office.)