War on Terrorism

Monday, May 11, 2009

Face of Defense: Montana Reservist 'Mothers' Unit in Iraq

By Staff Sgt. Luke Koladish
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 11, 2009 - Army Sgt. Anne M. Mitchell misses her children in Montana while she's deployed here, but those her serve with her say she brings her mothering instincts to their unit, 143rd Military Police Detachment. Mitchell admits it's hard being a mother and deployed soldier, but she says it doesn't limit her in her job. Being older and one of three females in the unit, she says feels a motherly compassion toward her soldiers – and they agree.

"She's always looking out for us, keeping us fat and happy, but she doesn't put up with any of our whining, which is also a motherly trait," Sgt. Andrew Short said.

Mitchell, of Gardner, Mont., spent five years on active duty. She decided not to extend her enlistment so she could care for her terminally ill mother. Sixteen years later, her son graduated high school and she enlisted into the Montana Army National Guard. She was working as an Active Guard Reserve supply sergeant for the 143rd Military Police Detachment when she was notified she would deploy.

"I knew I had to be strong," Mitchell said of the deployment. She began having her 13-year-old daughter, Sydney, come by the unit to become familiar with her role as a supply sergeant and the soldiers who would become her family for the next year. When she deployed, Sydney moved in with her grandfather.

"He's actually gaining a lot from this experience, and he loves it," Mitchell said.

Mitchell says she keeps in touch with her family as much as possible, and she spent this past Mother's Day chatting over the Internet with Sydney.

"It's the personal letters that are the best thing," she said. "With so much wildlife in Montana, I try to focus on sharing with her the bugs and animals here."

Mitchell is responsible for the logistical aspects of her military police detachment, including unit movement, medical supplies, food, office supplies and items specific to MP's, such as tasers.

Short started working with Mitchell during annual training in 2007. "The stuff our supply sergeant does for us is so far-reaching that I couldn't comprehend what we would do without her," Short said.

He and the rest of the unit will find out at the end of this month when Mitchell is scheduled to go on leave to see her family for the first time in seven months -- the longest she has ever gone without seeing them.

Mitchell said she plans on spending time with her daughter, fishing and hiking in the Montana forests, and will be home just long enough to see her son off to Air Force basic training.

"I couldn't talk him into the Army," she said, "but at least I will be able to square him away before he leaves for boot camp."

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release).

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