CN SALUTES E4 SPECIALIST KIMBERLY PELKEY (BLAKELEY) & E4 SPECIALIST BRADLEY BLAKELEY

Kim & Brad
Kim & Brad in Great Falls Mt.

E-4 Specialist Kimberly Pelkey (Blakeley) and E-4 Specialist Bradley Blakeley joined the Army starting out on different paths and from different areas those paths would ultimately cross in Iraq. Here is their experience, Pelkey first…

Pelkey wanted to be in the Marines. She wanted to be airborne, but the Marines only allowed men in the airborne program because it was considered a combat role and her eye sight was bad so she failed the Marine’s physical. That is when she was approached by the Army. The Army did let women into their airborne program so Pelkey signed up.  Her Army contract had her in boot camp, them AIT for 77 Foxtrot, then jump school. By the time jump school came around, Pelkey had troubles with her knees and then embraced her MOS at 77 Foxtrot, fuel supply.

What was your training for your MOS and what was your job?
Boot camp was at Fort Jackson and AIT school (Advanced Individual Training) was at Fort Lee, Virginia. PVOC (Petroleum Vehicle Operator’s Course) training was in Missouri. I learned to operate fuel vehicles and big tankers.

Was your job dangerous?
We got to the war just after Jessica Lynch was rescued. We watched that on the news just before we deployed from Fort Lewis. We knew we would be stepping into harm’s way yet on the other hand we had no idea what to expect. I never fired my weapon and I was personally not on the receiving end of small arms fire, however we were taking fueling trucks and tanks on roads where IUDs and roadside bombs were everywhere. We would convoy fuel to smaller camps and vehicles outside of camps.

The camps were rough in the beginning of the war. The tents didn’t have floors and so you were literally living in a sand pit. There were no latrines either in the first camps. We would cut barrels in half and use those then burn it.

The camps were vulnerable to mortar fire and came under fire on several occasions and by the grace of God we didn’t have any injuries or deaths. We did have a RPG fired through our concrete barrier while I was on guard duty one early morning, but the mortars were the scariest.

What prompted you to serve?
I always wanted to be in the military.  I remember hearing  that song… “All that you can be” as a preschool age child.

What were some of the greatest challenges you faced?
Freedom at 19, I had a lot of growing up to do. The majority of the time I was under a chain of command, but when I did have personal time, making the right choices. Also you have to learn to get along with other people from different areas and other walks of life.

What was the most rewarding experience?
I enjoyed the military and I liked being part of a team. I also liked experiencing every area of the Army in my eight and half years; Active duty, inactive duty, active reserve and then back to active duty. I enjoyed being on post and deployments.

I also met Jesus during the deployment, while we were in Kuwait, waiting to convey up, into Iraq. I was always searching for happiness in the next adventure. I wasn’t able to live in the moment. I remembered thinking, is this it? Is this all there is? When I met Jesus I finally found love and peace.

How did serving affect your family?
My parents had two children in Iraq at that time, so I imagine they were nervous. My siblings were proud of me. My first husband and I met in the Army when I first enlisted. We married and had two children. When we divorced I was far away from my family and didn’t have a circle of support. I also needed to make extra money and the Army was already something I knew how to do so I went active reserve then got called up after 9-11. That meant I also had an ex-husband back home with two small children. I was gone for fifteen months and that separation was extremely difficult.

When soldiers have to leave their families behind, it is always difficult. I was a solider before my husband or children came along. Being in the military is something I am really proud of. Whenever I step back onto a base, I really miss that. On the other side of it, I hope I am not in a situation where I get separated from my family again, but I was proud to do my part when I was called upon.

When you choose to serve your country, whatever your reasoning, you just do it! You raise your right hand and you swear to God that you’ll defend your country and when you are called upon it is not on your terms. You can’t suddenly say, “Oh this isn’t what I was expecting…”

What were the advantages to serving?
There is a difference between going to college for four years or enlisting for active duty service, not to mention going on deployment to an overseas conflict. It teaches you how to deal with people and prepares you for life in a different way. It’s never about what you think is best for yourself or what you want. You are a willing servant.

What are the disadvantages?
When I came home, after a long pity party, I learned that trauma is trauma. When I came back I was super hyper vigilant and felt I was alone in my struggle to adjust to motherhood as a single person with a lot of anger from the deep pain I experienced. I wasn’t in combat, I didn’t kill anybody, and I didn’t lose a limb, but I was a divorced 24 year old female with two very young children living in fear of knowing I might not come home to them. For me the trauma was separation and not knowing if I would come home and the guilt that came from that. The bottom line is no matter what your experience in deployment, when you come back to civilian life or station, you still have to process that, because trauma is trauma.

Everything happens for a reason. God is always good! I found my salvation while serving America in a war zone and I met my second husband at that time. I discovered there is a greater purpose and it’s not about me…It’s so much bigger than that!

 

iraq kim & brad
Kim and local children in Al-Hilah, S. of Bagdad Multi National Camp

Iraq 2 kim & Brad
Brad in front of concrete/sandbagged bunker

Iraq 3 kim & brad
Kim at Ancient Babylon

E-4 Specialist Bradley Blakeley was with the United States Army Reserves 1996-2004. He was 77F now 77A Fuel Supply Specialist. Fuel storage and distribution including operating fuel vehicles, 969 tankers and TPU (Tank and pump unit) as well as the typical duties of a soldier.

What was your training for your MOS?
Eight weeks in Fort Lee, Virginia with lots of classroom work to learn about Hazmat and handling hazardous materials. We also studied fuel operations from storage, to pipelines, to railroad operations, to sling loading, fuel pumps, measuring fuel storage and recirculating fuel. This was mostly for JPS fuel.

What did you like most about serving?
I liked being part of a well-trained team that was directly serving our country. I loved wearing the uniform.

What prompted you to serve?
I always wanted to be in the Army. I actually went to basic training my junior year of High School and then right after my senior year I went to AIT for my MOS training.

What were the biggest challenges you faced?
Basic training was tough, but not too much of a challenge. However, my deployment to Iraq was surely the greatest challenge during my enlistment. Overcoming what the deployment brought on a day to day and surviving it.

What was the most rewarding experience?
Serving overseas in a conflict and coming home to a grateful nation.

E-4 SP Blakeley with a sand spider in Iraq
E-4 SP Blakeley with a sand spider in Iraq

How did serving affect your family?
My mamma was worried a lot, but she was proud to be the mother of a soldier.

What advantages did you face re-entering civilian life?
I felt as though employers would look favorably on hiring a combat veteran. It taught me how to overcome adversities and challenges. You can persevere through more than you think you can.

What disadvantages did you face re-entering civilian life?
It was difficult for a period of time. I was used to a military setting and when I came home there was no order.

What is your advice to someone who is thinking of serving their country?
I would highly encourage them. Choose your MOS carefully. It is a very rewarding experience. Personally there is nothing like putting on a uniform and serving your country! Join the Air Force!

E-4 Specialist Kim Pelkey and E-4 Special Brad Blakeley met at Fort Lewis just before a deployment that took them into Iraq to serve on the same fuel team. After the deployment was over they continued to keep in touch and today are married and share a blended family.

THANK YOU SPECIALIST E-4 KIM PELKEY BLAKELEY AND SPECIALIST E-4 BRAD BLAKELEY FOR YOUR SERVICE!

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Author: CN Bring

CN Bring gravitated toward military intrigue and suspense inspired by a mother who read nothing but mysteries and inspired by family members who served in the Army, air Force and Navy. PC by Melissa Coulier.

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