CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — A newly promoted North Carolina National Guard member here who has developed a plan for his life is pushing himself to ensure he gets the job done.
Army Spc. Blake Williford hails from Burgaw, North Carolina, and is an analyst with the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team headquarters.
"Since I started the deployment process I've gone from private to specialist and dropped 22 pounds. It has been a life-changing experience," Williford said. "When I get home I'm going to work on school, find a full-time job, and stay in shape."
Preparing for More Responsibility
Even though he will not be putting on sergeant stripes for a few years, he is already preparing himself for the next grade.
"I'll be doing the Basic Leadership Course in January, and after that I just need to wait on time in grade and service for my promotion to sergeant," Williford said. "I'm reading more regulations, and taking notes from soldiers in my leadership, like Staff Sgt. [Kyle] Burke."
He added, "I have watched and learned from them about how I can become a good noncommissioned officer. II have a lot of good examples around me."
Burke, a senior analyst also deployed with the 30th ABCT, has been Williford's supervisor for only one month and says he is already impressed with how he conducts himself on the job. Williford, Burke said, goes above and beyond in his role providing the 30th ABCT and Multinational Battle Group-East commander situational understanding and awareness of the complex environment in Kosovo.
"Williford is confident and knows what he needs to do his job well," Burke said. "He relies on his training and his NCOs, but isn't afraid to ask for guidance or clarification.
"I've been overseeing his daily work and making sure he understands his tasks," Burke continued. "But since he is very reliable and dependable, I never have to worry if he is going to get the job done."
Learning the Job
Williford has been a soldier in the North Carolina National Guard for two-and-a-half years, and is serving on NATO's peace support mission in Kosovo during his first deployment.
He said he was apprehensive when he first arrived in the new environment, but over time he's found ways to adapt to his surroundings -- an essential skill for a soldier and a future sergeant.
"It was stressful in the beginning," he said. "It wasn't what I thought it would be. But once I got in the right mindset and learned the flow of work, it has been enjoyable."
Williford and his 30th ABCT headquarters teammates are serving as the MNBG-E headquarters on the 20th rotation of U.S. troops into Kosovo since the late 1990s. In this mission, the headquarters and its subordinate U.S. and multinational forces work to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement in eastern and northern Kosovo.