Military Connection: Looking to Dad for Inspiration

sandreaBy Debbie Gregory.

As the daughter of a retired Green Beret , Army 1st Sgt. Sandrea Cruz understands the stress that Army service places on a soldier’s family. Born on Fort Stewart in Georgia, Cruz serves as the first sergeant of the Group Support Battalion’s Sustainment and Distribution Company in the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne).  As the company’s senior non-commissioned officer, she is responsible for leading more than 150 men and women, specializing in logistics and supply operations in support of the group’s training and missions.

Cruz enlisted in the Army after the 9/11 terror attacks. Of her father, she said, “if there was anyone I could emulate, it would be him, because there was nothing that was unobtainable or out of reach to him in the military.”

She said her most challenging assignment came in her second duty assignment at Camp Hialeah, South Korea. With the 4th Quartermaster Detachment (Airborne) as a newly promoted sergeant with little more than two years in the Army, Cruz was serving as the company supply sergeant and the unit’s armorer and ammunition manager.  This demanding workload, coupled with her responsibility of leading both U.S. and South Korean soldiers, was the introduction of the Army’s noncommissioned officer corps.

Cruz credits Army Sgt. 1st Class Celia Gonzalez for becoming the leader she is today.

Gonzalez, a parachute rigger by trade and the first Hispanic female to serve with the Golden Knights, was Cruz’s platoon sergeant in South Korea. Though she was not a qualified parachutist at the time, Cruz was given the opportunity to get on a C-130 aircraft and observe Gonzalez performing duties as a primary jumpmaster.

“There was something quite thrilling and inspirational about watching her rake static lines and move parachutists out of the aircraft,” Cruz said. “This motivated me to not only go to Airborne School, but eventually become a jumpmaster myself, which I never planned to do.”

Cruz is one of two women in her group serving as the senior NCO in a company, with her counterpart leading troops in the Group Support Battalion’s headquarters element. Cruz routinely performs duties as a jumpmaster, working hard to instill confidence into soldiers anxious about the inherent dangers of airborne operations.

After more than 13 years in the military, Cruz notes how much has changed culturally. She believes women have many more opportunities in the military than when she joined. They can now serve in assignments previously closed to them, which allows them to take more leading roles in the contemporary force.

Married to a Green Beret in the 7th Group, Cruz’s husband trains and leads other Special Forces soldiers, preparing them for deployments to austere locations far away from logistics lines.

She advises younger woman in her leadership that they get what they put into their Army careers.

“Master your trade and never, never, never quit! Enough motivation, persistence and willpower will get you through everything.”

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Military Connection: Looking to Dad for Inspiration: By Debbie Gregory