Saturday, October 24, 2015

Who Fights Our Wars? Army 3.0: Pilot Trains for 1st Combat Deployment During Third Army “Career”




 CW2 Sara Christensen

In 1985, when President Ronald Reagan was just beginning his second term, the Soviet Union was fighting in Afghanistan and the Cold War was still a hot topic, Sara Christensen enlisted in the Army Reserve.  She lived in California, had just graduated from high school and wanted to be a dental technician. 

The following year she went to Basic Training and MOS training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.  In Texas she met her future husband Kelvin Christensen.  He was an E5 on his way to Officer Candidate School (OCS) in California with the Army National Guard.  Although just a Private at the time, Sara managed to get accepted for OCS.  Kelvin and Sara went through the course together and were commissioned 2nd Lieutenants. 

At this point, the Christensen’s were both officers.  They chose Aviation as their branch and eventually went to flight school.  Sara trained in Hueys, Kelvin in Blackhawks.  By 1991 they both had transferred to the Pennsylvania National Guard serving as aviation officers. 


LTC Kelvin and CW2 Sara Christensen

At this point both Sara and Kelvin were well on their way with their second Army careers as commissioned officers.  Kelvin continued with his career in aviation and currently is a Lieutenant Colonel and is the Cargo Battalion Commander for the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (EAATS) on Fort Indiantown Gap.

Four years later, in 1995, the Christensens decided to go from no kids to three kids all at once.  They adopted three children from the Pennsylvania Foster Care system who need homes.  With three kids, Kelvin and Sara both continued their careers in the Army. 

By 2001 the already larger than average family had more than doubled to seven kids and Captain Sara Christensen left the Army National Guard for the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).  She kept her commission and, in fact, was promoted to major while on inactive status. 

After more than a decade of raising seven kids, Sara decided to return to Army Aviation after a thirteen-year break in service.  The timing was critical because the maximum age to return to aviation service is 46 years old.  She made the deadline, beginning her third Army career as a Warrant Officer.  She could have come back as a commissioned officer and been eligible for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, but she wanted to fly and would have more opportunities to be in the cockpit as a warrant officer. 

In addition to beginning Army service for a third time, she has now held rank in all three sections of the chain of command:  enlisted, officer, and warrant officer. 

Despite being three years in to what a third Army career, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sara Christensen is currently training for her first combat deployment.  She is a pilot with Detachment 1, Charlie Company (Medevac), 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion,  28th Combat Aviation Brigade.  She is training in Texas for deployment to Southwest Asia later this year. 



Family Black Sheep Flies a MEDEVAC Blackhawk

Brooklyn-born Amira Talifi, (not her real name) is a helicopter pilot I served with in the Army National Guard. She is one of seven ch...