Nearly 100 years ago, young American men were leaving farms across America, joining every branch of the military to fight in World War One. One in three Americans lived on a farm during the first decades of the 20th Century so just about every squad of soldiers had farmer.
Today fewer than two in 100 Americans live on farms, but one of those Americans with a small family farm is headed for his fifth deployment. Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Kwiecien, a flight medic with nearly 20 years of service, will be leaving for Southwest Asia later this year. He is deploying with Detachment 1, Charlie Company, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion where he will serve as Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the unit.
On 4.5 acres in mid-state Pennsylvania, Kwiecien and his family raise chickens, ducks and guinea hens. He is considering adding goats and bees along with the flock of nearly 50 birds, but those plans are on hold until after deployment. Raising poultry for eggs and for the table is one of several hobbies Kwiecien has, including making medical apparel, rock climbing and playing the drums.
Kwiecien joined the Army in 1996, serving on active duty for six years. He joined the Army National Guard in 2003. In 19 years of service he has deployed to Bosnia, Saudi Arabia and twice to Iraq, most recently with the 56th Stryker Brigade in 2009. He has served on active duty with the Guard since returning from deployment in 2010.
In a phone interview while he was on a weekend pass, Kwiecien talked about his view of life before going on another deployment.
I am a product of….
Years of failure. I am very persistent. I think that persistence has paid off because after 19 years and many failures I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and like Thomas Edison who figured all the ways not to make a lightbulb, I move on and stick with the things that work. It’s better to try and fail than to never give your dream a shot.
Several years ago, Kwiecien went to a weekend-long evaluation for a National Guard Special Forces Unit in Maryland. He got through the first weekend and was told he could come back for the second round of evaluations. In between he got promoted and by taking the promotion took himself out of the program. Although he did not make it into the Special Forces, he does not regret the attempt.
The search for serenity. Finding the situation or the place that is completely calming. My big plan after deployment is to go to Zion national Park in Utah with my family. Getting away from civilization and being one with nature. Rock climbing and hiking are things I really look forward to on visits to national parks.
You can have the best idea…
But execution makes a good idea real. A good plan put into motion today and refined as needed is better than a great plan that hasn’t been started. Hesitation and indecision kill good plans and good ideas.
There is drama…
There’s always drama it’s nothing new and it’s never going away. I tell my soldiers keep your private life private and your professional life professional and I won’t need to be involved in your private life.
The best lesson I ever had…
My dad told me when I was graduating from high school and we were looking at colleges that people should always have a skill in addition to higher education. When he returns from deployment, Kwiecien will be starting a business making medical clothing for first responders.