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Face of Defense: Soldier Experiences Teamwork at Her First Annual Training

By Army Sgt. Odaliska Almonte North Carolina National Guard

SUNNY POINT, N.C., July 01, 2016 — Another year of annual training has ended for the North Carolina Army National Guard’s 514th Military Police Company, but this year, the training was not like any other.

This year, the soldiers participated in a two-week regional homeland security exercise, dubbed Operation Vigilant Seahawk, designed to improve communication and coordination with state and federal partners in case of a major disaster.

The training scenario, which ran June 13-22, envisioned a category 3 hurricane devastating coastal North Carolina and compromising the security of its ports.

First Annual Training Experience

Among the soldiers building their disaster response skills was Army Pvt. Noel Weeks, who joined the North Carolina Army National Guard in 2015 -- meaning that the exercise here was her first experience of annual training.

Initially, Weeks said, she was nervous and feeling intimidated.

"I was assigned the tactical operations center and was not familiar with the equipment I was assigned to work with," she said. "I soon became familiar with it and was comfortable enough to manage the equipment on my own and show others how to use it."

Keeping Open Communications

"In the TOC I work on keeping communications with [the] battalion, making sure everything is running well," Weeks said. "I also keep logs of who's coming on base and who's going off, everything like that."

Over the past few days of Operation Vigilant Seahawk, Weeks has learned one of the most important lessons -- teamwork.

"The biggest lesson I have learned from this annual training is to work as a team and not to let my frustrations get in the way of my work ethic," Weeks said.

Motivated by Tradition

Weeks’ extended family has a tradition of service, she said.

"My family is really patriotic,” she said, “with a grandfather and uncle who were in the military; I joined because I really wanted to deploy in order to serve my country."

Close Family Bond

Her close family bond helped her to integrate into her unit, Weeks said. Growing up, she learned to put others first and her family is proud of her military service, she said.

When she’s not on duty with her National Guard unit, Weeks is a volunteer EMT who hopes to start her own sports medicine practice -- one that makes house calls. Her motivation? Her father, who suffers from severe back pain and has to travel one hour each way for therapy that leaves him feeling worse after all the travelling.
Distribution channels: Military