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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Outlaw Josey Wales 2006

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eliamar Trapp

U.S. Army Pfc. Cindra Smith of C Company clears

her weapon before entering the barracks after
physical training. She joined the Army to become
an explosive ordnance disposal specialist after her
daughter was injured in Iraq during an IED attack.

After Daughter is Injured in Iraq, Mom Joins Army
By Sgt. Eliamar Trapp
Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., July 12, 2006 — Having volunteered with the Red Cross, Cindra Smith knew there was something wrong when she arrived home from work late one night and had a Red Cross message on her machine.

“When I called them back I was told to wait by the phone and expect a call,” she said. “When I got the phone call they said my daughter had been shot in the back during an IED attack in Iraq.”

Pvt. Tracy Branton, Smith’s oldest daughter, was a heavy wheel mechanic on a convoy in Iraq when it was hit by IEDs. When Branton and her fellow soldiers got out of the vehicles to inspect the area, she was shot in the back. Now 21, Branton is 70 percent disabled and has a slight paralysis because of the injuries caused by the shooting.

“I remember being angry,” Smith said. “As parents, we always try and look for someone to blame. But knowing that she was doing something she believed in and wanted to do helped me get over that.”

After Branton was injured, Smith’s 20-year-old son, James Pritchard, decided to join the Army to become an infantryman. He attended basic and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga., and is serving in Iraq with the 1st Infantry Division.

When the Army raised its acceptance age from 35 to 40 and then to 42, Smith made a life-changing move. Two weeks away from her 40th birthday, she is now known as Pfc. Cindra Smith, a soldier in C Company, 832nd Ordnance Battalion, 59th Ordnance Brigade, where she is attending AIT to become an explosive ordnance disposal specialist.

“If I can save another parent from getting the same phone call I did, then I would have done everything I came in to do,” Smith said.

Smith said joining the Army has given her a better understanding of what her children have been through. Her journey through initial entry training, however, was harder than it is for most. While attempting to rappel off Victory Tower, a 65-foot obstacle, Smith fell and fractured her hip in five places.

“I only missed one training event after I fell,” she said. “I completed all the road marches and ran with my company for PT. I might not have been the first one in, but I finished all the company runs.”

But the biggest obstacle Smith faced was an emotional one – after fighting cancer for more than two years, Smith’s mother died.

“I had been taking care of my mother for more than two years before I came into the Army,” Smith said. “When the time came for me to join, my mother and I had a long conversation and she supported my decision. We made the agreement that I would not be called if she passed away while I was in basic so my training would not be interrupted.”

Smith learned about her mother’s death during a call home a week and a half afterward
“I’m looking forward to (deploying),” Smith said. “I believe it will give me a better understanding of what my children have experienced. Also, there are so many new IEDs being found out there every day. I commend those soldiers who have been putting their lives on the line each day for our country. It would be an honor for me to dismantle IEDs with them. I could be saving the life of someone’s father, daughter or mother.”

With the support of her husband, a retired firefighter, and her three children, Smith hopes to complete phase one of EOD training in August, then move to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to complete phase two of her training and graduate as an EOD specialist.

This woman is looking for revenge. As is her son.

Now, she's picked an odd way to go about it, but this woman doesn't belong in the Army. She fractured her hip, at 40, and they didn't chapter her out because of her MOS. She needed a shrink. Anyone who would rather train to defuse IED's over being with her dying mother is acting out a psychodrama I'd want no part of.

Instead of helping her daughter with everything from her pension to dealing with the VA, she's gonna go get some Iraqi bomb makers.

I mean, she's so wracked with guilt, she's engaged in some fantasy about saving other people instead of her family. Someone said in another post that she's trying not to go postal, but who the hell wants to serve with Josey Wales? Because this is about revenge and a desperate Army. It's a lot easier to deal with IED's than a broken 21 year old. A lot easier to let your son sign up for the Infantry to get revenge. I think if she could have gone 11X, she would have as well.

It is a hard thing to walk into the VA or a military hospital. Harder to deal with your guilt. But to train over being with your mother while she dies? To seek to deploy after a broken hip? This reeks of revenge and revenge does not belong in
combat because it gets people killed.

posted by Steve @ 3:05:00 AM

3:05:00 AM

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