By Staff Sgt. Aaron Rognstad
U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command
The Soldiers of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command are, at times, a direct reflection of the country they serve. They come from different backgrounds, different parts of the globe, and represent a multitude of race and culture.
This series of articles will periodically focus on a different Soldier within the command in a question and answer format to get to know the Soldier.
For this first article, I introduce Spc. Gerald Ngugi (the N is silent), a light-wheel vehicle mechanic in the Army Reserve of the 2nd Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, Colorado Springs. Ngugi, a 51-year-old truck driver who lives in Colorado Springs, recently sat down with me on one of the many M-16 ranges at Fort Carson and answered my questions whilst eating an MRE before he qualified with his weapon.
Q: Where in Kenya are you from?
A: Kiambu. It’s a suburb of the capital, Nairobi. I worked my grandfather’s farm for years there. It was manual labor dealing with livestock and farming. Cows, chickens, planting and harvesting collard greens, potatoes and bananas. It was hard work.
Q: How long have you been in the U.S.?
A: 13 years. I moved here when I was 38.
Q: What brought you here?
A: I had a brother who passed away in Boston. I came to help with funeral arrangements to ship him back home and decided to stay after that.
Q: Why did you join the Army?
A: I was working at a 7-11 in Boston and all these military guys would come in and talk to me about it, so I decided to join – at age 40. The cutoff was 42 then.
Q: Basic at age 40? What was that like?
A: Not that much different. I was working hard to meet the standards in all training events. I had to put in more effort than the much younger Soldiers I was with to succeed.
Q: Where was your first duty assignment?
A: Fort Lewis, Washington, as a light-wheel vehicle mechanic – High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, Light Medium Tactical Vehicle, etc.
Q: What made you choose to be a mechanic?
A: I originally wanted to be a mechanic because transportation is one of the biggest factors that leads to mission accomplishment. I felt like I could make the most contribution as a mechanic in the Army.
Q: How long have you served?
A: 10 years.
Q: What brought you to the 2nd Space Battalion?
A: I was assigned to the unit when I left active duty and wanted to continue as a reservist.
Q: Any deployments? What did you do? How was it?
A: I did one deployment at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, from February to November 2015 as a wrecker and mechanic. I did a lot of recovery ops – blown out tires, towing. I liked the deployment.
Q: How has the Army been? Do you like serving?
A: The Army has given me many opportunities to go new places, like here in Colorado, where I decided to settle. I have been going to school and trying to be physically fit because of the Army. The Army gives me a higher standard of living. I also feel a sense of pride and honor while serving in the Army.
Q: Can you elaborate on that higher standard of living part?
A: I’ve gotten the opportunity to go to schools; lots of opportunities in life because of various Army training.
Q: What is it like to serve in a space battalion?
A: I like serving in a space battalion compared to my old units because the space title makes it more interesting. It’s like a cell phone, where you can talk to someone who is halfway around the world right? What is allowing you to make that call? Satellites in space. It’s a complexity of high order.
Q: What are your goals in life? Is there a specific career you are trying to get into?
A: My goal in life is to continue to be more educated. I am now in trucking, which has opportunities in transport, maintenance, or recycling, and I am looking to get a permanent position in one of those fields.
Ngugi is married, and they have three children. He enjoys yard work, gardening, travelling, jogging, hiking and team sports.
Author's note: If you know someone within your unit who you would like to profile, email: email@example.com