Guard Soldier Succeeds on All-Army Women’s Rugby Team

SPC Samantha Coleman, a Motor Transport Operator with the 2220th Transportation Company in Tucson, Arizona, poses with her All-Army Women’s Rugby Team jersey at Papago Park Military Reserve.

PHOENIX, Arizona – Practices in the hot, sticky North Carolina summer last six hours a day on the turf field, making conditions grueling. Sweat flows, feet hurt, and the heat will only intensify as athletes like Specialist (SPC) Samantha Coleman prepare for their upcoming tournament.

The San Antonio native and 88M Truck Driver with the 2220th Transportation Company of the Arizona Army National Guard is one of the athletes on the All-Army Women’s Rugby Team.

SPC Coleman bounced around schools playing basketball and learning mixed martial arts, and she began playing rugby about a year ago. While playing with her team in Tucson, she learned about the All-Army Women’s Rugby Team.

“I’ve only been playing less than a year,” she says. “You never know unless you try.”

With encouragement from her teammates, she decided to go through the competitive application process. She made the team that consisted of Officers and Non-commissioned Officers. She felt as if she wasn’t good enough to play alongside those leaders.

At first, she thought, “I don’t deserve to be here. I’m so outclassed. But, it’s like, you know what? The worst they can do is say no.”

First Lieutenant (1LT) Kasey McCravey, captain of the All-Army Women’s Rugby Team and member of the U.S. Women’s National Rugby Team, attributes SPC Coleman’s success to her desire to learn.

“She has an ability to take information and apply it immediately,” says 1LT McCravey. “She would do the extras, and she was a positive light to the team.”

“You may feel like you’re just a regular Specialist, or whatever you may be,” says SPC Coleman. “But the work you do matters.”

Making the team was just the beginning. She and the team had to endure a summertime training camp in North Carolina.

“That training camp is honestly the highlight of my life,” she says. “Everyone’s on the same page and trying to get better and grow.”

“She came in having defensive strength, and she was weaker on her passing,” 1LT McCravey recalls. “She stayed longer with the coaches and other players and improved her passing skills.”

The team’s hard work was in preparation for the Armed Forces Sports First Women’s Rugby Championship in Wilmington, N.C. in July.

Army dominated, going undefeated in the tournament. The victory garnered an invitation to the Cape Fear Tournament, where Army faced tougher competition and placed third.

“The whole concept about rugby is community and family, more so than any other sport I’ve been a part in,” says SPC Coleman.

Her rugby team is family, just like being in the Arizona Army National Guard. “If you’re having a moment of weakness, or whatever, you’re just like, we’re in this together; embrace the suck.”

SPC Coleman plans to continue playing rugby for the Army. After getting her degree, she wants to be commissioned as an intelligence Officer.

“The Army has let me pursue a lot of my passions,” she says. “That’s a real family. They would do anything for you, because you would do anything for them.”

The self-doubt SPC Coleman felt when she first joined the team has given way to a better sense of worth.

“Don’t count yourself out before you even try – don’t let other people make you small.”

When you join the Army National Guard, you gain family, experience, and skills for life. With benefits like tuition assistance and the flexibility to serve part-time in your home State, you can achieve your goals while making a difference in your community and country. To explore available opportunities, explore the job board where you’ll find careers in fields like aviation, engineering, and technology. To learn more, contact a recruiter today!

From an original article by SPC Jacob Dunlap and SPC John Randall, 123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in October 2019.

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Guard Snapshot: Arizona

Promoted Arizona twins share National Guard experience

Frederick and Derick Aidoo were recently promoted to master sergeant. The twins joined the National Guard together 19 years ago and continue to serve side-by-side. (Photo by Capt. Matthew Murphy)

Frederick and Derick Aidoo were recently promoted to master sergeant. The twins joined the National Guard together 19 years ago and continue to serve side-by-side. (Photo by Capt. Matthew Murphy)

Twin brothers Derick and Frederick Aidoo — literal brothers in arms serving the State and Nation in the Arizona Army National Guard — recently pinned on the rank of master sergeant. According to their colleagues, they serve with two times the dedication, two times the commitment, and two times the honor.

Like many twins, the Aidoos have a tendency to finish each other’s sentences. About his service in the Guard, Derick said, “The Army has kept me on track. It keeps life on track with fitness and lifestyle.” Then Frederick said, “It’s a foundation. Something to tell your kids,” and Derick finished, “about being a Soldier and being proud to tell people who you are.”

The brothers are also two-time combat veterans, serving in Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2010.

Chief Warrant Officer Hector Mendoza deployed with the brothers to Afghanistan, and Frederick served as Mendoza’s noncommissioned officer in charge. Mendoza had an opportunity to observe the brothers in action. “If one does one thing, so does the other. Their work ethic, their fitness level, their commitment — it’s exactly the same,” Mendoza said. “Frederick worked with me and Derick worked with another chief warrant officer. During the entire deployment, the brothers worked nonstop and refused to take a day off. I really admire them.”

While Frederick is an architect in his civilian life and Derick is a construction engineer, their military careers and training are mirrored. Having trained in supply and logistics, Frederick currently serves as the operations NCO/NCOIC for the 198th Regional Support Group and Derick is the logistics support NCO.

Looking back at their 19 years of service from when they joined in 1995, the brothers chuckled over their memories of basic training and advanced individual training (AIT). Derick said, “The drill sergeants didn’t like us too much because they couldn’t tell us apart and we were in the same group. So if they told one of us to drop and do pushups, the other had to do them too.”

They practically speak in unison about their love of the Guard: “Working with the Soldiers and helping families. We’ve had good leaders and they pushed us to this point. You have to have good leaders.”

Capt. Edwin Longwell, assistant plans officer for the 198th RGS and the twins’ current supervisor, said, “The Aidoos always see what needs to be done and they get it done. They don’t hesitate to take action and they don’t hesitate to speak up to help their chain of command. They are a cohesive team and their performance is as identical as they are.”

Achieving the rank of master sergeant in the Army is one rank short of the highest available. The brothers have no plans to slow down.

“Having a sibling join the Guard with you is a good idea,” Derick said. “I can always talk to him about the Army. We help each other and we feed off each other, and it motivates us.”

“Now we just look at the next opportunity,” Frederick added.

Look for your next opportunity in the Army National Guard by visiting our jobs board and contacting a recruiter today.

Original article and photo by Arizona National Guard Capt. Matthew Murphy was published May 5, 2014, on NationalGuard.mil.

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Guard Snapshot: Arizona

From time to time this year, On Your Guard will take a look at what’s happening in the Guard across the Nation. A snapshot, if you will, of the Army National Guard skillsets being honed and important community service missions being deployed State to State.

Here’s what was going on in Arizona earlier this month …

 

AZ Soldiers, U.S. CBP unite to secure border hot spot

Army Staff Sgts. Joaquin Lopez, left, and Ruben Cruz, assigned to the Arizona Army National Guard’s 2220th Transportation Company, offload concrete barriers in Naco, Ariz., near the Arizona-Mexico border, March 1. The Soldiers partnered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to deliver the barriers from El Centro, Calif., as a way to accomplish training on convoy operations while supporting CBP efforts along the border. (Photo by Capt. Janek Kaslikowski, U.S. Army National Guard)

Army Staff Sgts. Joaquin Lopez, left, and Ruben Cruz, assigned to the Arizona Army National Guard’s 2220th Transportation Company, offload concrete barriers in Naco, Ariz., near the Arizona-Mexico border, March 1. The Soldiers partnered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to deliver the barriers from El Centro, Calif., as a way to accomplish training on convoy operations while supporting CBP efforts along the border. (Photo by Capt. Janek Kaslikowski, U.S. Army National Guard)

TUCSON, Ariz. – The Arizona Army National Guard’s 2220th Transportation Company has been working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reinforce areas along the Arizona-Mexico border. The light-medium truck company moved 193 tons of concrete barriers from El Centro, Calif., to Naco, Ariz., recently to fortify a porous section of the State’s border.

Army Guard and customs officials called the convoy operation a success and said it was a model for future inter-agency coordination.

“We’ve been working on a solution for getting that border infrastructure into place in Naco for quite some time,” said Manuel Padila, Jr., the chief patrol agent for the CBP’s Tucson sector. “When the Guard saw this as a training opportunity it became a win-win situation for everyone. This certainly highlights the long-standing partnership we’ve had with the Guard and it points to new ways we can work together.”

Where once a fence line was the only impediment for those in vehicles looking to illegally breach the border at Naco, now a robust barricade hampers entry attempts.

In all, the Guard delivered 115 cement blocks — 15 more than originally requested by CBP. In a matter of days, 52 Arizona Guard members used 26 vehicles to transport the load more than 400 miles.

“We used every section in the company to support the mission,” said Army Capt. Janek Kaslikowski, the company commander. “We have an operations section that planned the mission — estimated fuel, rest stops, and driver changes — and a maintenance section that kept us running. Our Soldiers received invaluable experience with securing a load, off-loading, vehicle recovery, and the importance of preventive maintenance checks and services.”

According to Kaslikowski, the mission was the perfect vehicle for bridging the gaps in experience between his junior Soldiers and his combat-tested senior non-commissioned officers.

“It was interesting to see them work together on this mission because this is exactly what we would do in theater,” he said. “The NCOs led this mission and gave the junior Soldiers plenty of opportunity to gain experience that they may not get without deploying.”

“We paired experienced drivers with inexperienced drivers,” said Army 2nd Lt. Sha-raya Harris, a platoon leader in the company. “I was one of the inexperienced drivers.”

“Some of the most junior motor transport operators in the company had only 10 minutes behind the wheel from initial training,” said Harris. “Now they all have seven-to-eight hours of experience negotiating turns, hills, and stops with 16 tons in tow.”

“It was great training, but I think this mission was equally important for building relationships,” said Harris. “Everywhere we went people supported us. Border protection employees, the ranchers in Naco, even other drivers on the Interstate — everyone found this mission interesting and wanted to help us along the way.”

Article and photo courtesy of the National Guard Bureau’s news archive; original article written by AF Maj. Gabe Johnson, Arizona National Guard Public Affairs

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