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Meet Your Military: Demo Team Pilot 'Rockets' to New Heights

After almost three years of inactivity, the Air Force recertified the Viper Demo Team and chose Baker to be its sole pilot. "Craig always wanted to be a fighter pilot," said Lindsey Baker, Baker's wife of 10 years. "That, coupled with his desire to serve our country, drives what he does. He puts his all into everything that he is passionate about." From a young age, the Air Force Academy graduate said, he had an itch for the thrill to fly. support our troops us air force viper demo team Air Force Capt. Craig “Rocket” Baker, F-16 Viper Demo Team pilot, center left, stands for a photo with team members and Gen. Hawk Carlisle, center right, commander of Air Combat Command, during the Heritage Flight Certification and Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 28, 2015. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham"It's what I always wanted to do, and I've been fortunate enough along the way to have family from when I was a kid all the way through my Air Force career, support me along the way to allow what was a dream to become a reality," Baker said. Through the years, the Gray's Creek, North Carolina, native said, he sought the best way to become an Air Force pilot. "I started asking questions, because I really wanted to fly," he said. "Most of the pilot slots were given to the Air Force Academy, so at that point I set my sights on going there."

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Meet Your Military: From Moldovan Immigrant to American Airman

support our troops us air force airman immigrated from meldovaSenior Airman Vadim Poleanschi of the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron disassembles an individual protective armor in Southwest Asia, June 3, 2015. Poleanschi joined the Air Force after immigrating from the Republic of Moldova. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Racheal E. WatsonSOUTHWEST ASIA: On Christmas day in 1991, the Soviet flag flew over the Kremlin in Moscow for the last time. People across the country took what jobs they could find, getting paid a fraction of what they made before, as the local currency became nearly worthless. The burden of the country’s uncertain direction weighed heavily on the backs of the people.

Senior Airman Vadim Poleanschi, a 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics specialist, felt the burden, whether he understood it or not. Poleanschi was born shortly after the Soviet Union fell apart, in a country called the Republic of Moldova, landlocked between Romania and Ukraine. He spent his childhood hungry, poor and facing an uncertain future. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, everyday items were expensive and difficult to afford for parts of the population. Education opportunities were limited, forcing many to forgo a better life because they could simply not afford it. “I saw my parents not eat enough so (my siblings and I) had enough to eat,” Poleanschi said. “I didn’t realize the full situation until later on, when I grew up.”

Moving to America To give Poleanschi every opportunity life could offer, his parents took the few belongings they had and left their home to chase the American dream and the promise of a better life for their children. “Imagine coming to a new country with nothing,” Poleanschi said. “We didn’t have a lot of money, didn’t know the language and didn’t know anyone.” Moving to America had its challenges for Poleanschi’s parents. The land of opportunity was plenty, but the language barrier was the largest hurdle to jump. Through perseverance, Poleanschi’s parents were able to find jobs to support their family. Poleanschi’s parents weren’t the only ones who struggled with the language barrier; he had a hard time communicating with other kids. “As a kid I constantly got into fights because of the things I said,” Poleanschi said. As time passed and various programs helped the Poleanschi family, living in America became easier and the American dream started to become a reality. Professional Progression When the time came, Poleanschi entered the labor pool.

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Meet Your Military: Army Sergeant Major Pursues Her Dreams

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida: Army Sgt. Maj. Kristie Brady said she knew from a young age that she wanted to serve in the military like her father had.

support our troops us army sgt airborne jumpU.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Kristie Brady prepares for an airborne jump with the Joint Communications Support Element, an airborne communications unit headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Brady, who serves as a jumpmaster within JCSE, was recently selected as the first female command sergeant major of another airborne communications unit -- the 112th Special Operations Signal Battalion headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C. Joint Communications Support Element photo by Rick MaupinBrady was raised in Ethan, South Dakota, a farming town with a population of 300. “I wanted to be a part of something larger than myself,” Brady said. “I wanted to travel and gain experiences that would not be possible in my hometown.” Brady found that life-changing opportunity in 1992, when she entered the Army’s Delayed Entry Program at age 17. Since then, Brady has continued to broaden her horizons and exceed expectations as an information technology specialist and an airborne-qualified jumpmaster. Her commitment and dedication to service have led to an historical event, as she was recently chosen as the next command sergeant major of the 112th Special Operations Signal Battalion (Airborne) based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Brady will be the first female in the elite organization’s history to serve in this position. “The 112th Special Operations Signal Battalion is an extremely prestigious unit with a great reputation across the Army,” Brady said. “It is an incredible opportunity to serve in the 112th Signal Battalion and to do so as their command sergeant major is an extreme honor.”

Information Technology Career Field Brady had the foresight when joining the Army to realize that the information technology career field would be an important specialty both within the Army and in the civilian world. “At the time I enlisted, computers and information technology were fairly new,” Brady said. “I wanted to do something that would translate into good job prospects while serving and also following my military service.”

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Meet Your Military: Soldier Gets Women's Softball Team Trial

support our troops us army 1st lt throws softballArmy 1st Lt. Courtney Clausi, who hails from Ashland, Va., and is the assistant personnel officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, throws a softball on an athletic field on Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 21, 2015. Clausi was warming up her arm for practice. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jesse Smith CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea: It was getting dark as misty clouds rolled across the athletic field. The AstroTurf was soft, stiff underfoot and the smell of leather gloves was distinct. A female soldier stepped onto the field. A blurred sphere zipped through the air, and then a loud smack could be heard as the soldier caught the softball with her glove.

The soldier, Army 1st Lt. Courtney Clausi, who hails from Ashland, Virginia, and is the assistant personnel officer for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade here, isn’t a typical softball player. She has been selected to compete at a trial to be a part of the All-Army Women’s Softball Team. Clausi said she grew up in a military family. She began playing baseball around 20 years ago and fell in love with the sport.

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Meet Your Military: Soldier Earns Olympic Berth at Pan American Games

support our troops us army world class athlete program tabooArmy Spc. Nathan Schrimsher of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program rides a horse named Taboo, en route to earning a berth for the 2016 Olympic Games with a third-place finish in men's Modern Pentathlon at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, July 19, 2015. U.S. Army photo by Tim HippsTORONTO: Army Spc. Nathan Schrimsher earned an automatic berth into the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with a third-place finish July 19 in men's Modern Pentathlon at the 2015 Pan American Games here.

Schrimsher, 23, a soldier in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, or WCAP, from Roswell, New Mexico, took the bronze medal in the five-sports-in-one-day event with 1,421 points. "I'm ecstatic," Schrimsher said. "Yes, sir, it's awesome." WCAP Sgt. Dennis Bowsher, 32, a 2012 Olympian from Dallas, finished 10th with 1,348 points in the event, which includes fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping and combines cross-country running and laser pistol shooting -- all in one day. "I think my day was OK," Bowsher said. "I'm definitely feeling my age. The whole goal today was for one of us to get an Olympic quota spot, so mission accomplished." Charles Fernandez of Guatemala won the gold with 1,444 points, followed by silver medalist Ismael Hernandez Uscanga of Mexico with 1,439 points. Fourth- and fifth-place finishers Jose Figueroa (1,415) of Cuba and Emmanuel Zapata (1,413) of Argentina also punched tickets to Rio de Janeiro by virtue of by-name Olympic berths awarded to the top five.

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