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NEWS | Dec. 4, 2019

Army Reserve Soldier's birthday to remember on mobilization to Poland

By Master Sgt. Ryan Matson 652nd Regional Support Group

It’s a safe bet to say that Kimberly Curtis will never forget her 21st birthday, November 22.

It won’t be due to a wild night out at bars or something one might associate with turning 21.

Spc. Curtis, a supply specialist in the Army Reserve, is a member of the 652nd Regional Support Group, out of Helena, Montana, serving on her first mobilization to Drawsko Pomorskie, a remote base camp in Northwestern Poland. Curtis has lived her whole life in Helena, and the mobilization is her first time being outside the United States.

On her birthday, however, she felt more at home in Poland. She spent the day doing something she truly loves, riding horses.

“Today was pretty fun – it was definitely a big stress reliever from everything that I’ve been doing, so coming out here and being able to ride horses has been a pretty big deal for me,” Curtis said.

Typically, Curtis would be working as part of a five-Soldier mayor cell team running base operations at Drawsko Pomorskie. For her birthday, however, it was a 15-year-old Bavarian mare named Liberator doing all the work. Curtis, and her friend in the 652nd, Spc. Desireh Kissinger, spent about an hour riding the wooded trail around SBS Stallion Stables, an old stable near the town of Lobez, Poland. The rustic brick stable, built in 1876, once served as a military stable.

Kissinger, an information technician specialist also serving on the Drawsko Pomorskie mayor cell team arranged the special day.

“Spc. Curtis has not stopped talking about riding horses since we got to Poland, so I figured there was no better option for a birthday surprise than to bring her horseback riding,” Kissinger said.

Kissinger has known Curtis since Curtis joined the 652nd three years ago. She worked with the team’s linguist, Peter, to contact the stable and book the excursion.

When the two Soldiers and friends arrived at SBS, they were assisted by stable manager Sylvia Bamash, who introduced them to their horses and furnished them with their saddles.
Curtis and Kissinger spent about 20 minutes on a circular track inside the stable grounds familiarizing themselves with their horses. Then, followed by a small white dog named Skippy, they headed out onto the wooded trail.

Bamash, who rode horses for 20 years and teaches children to ride at the stables, said she shares a passion for horse riding with the Soldiers. It was her first time working with American Soldiers, and she said she was happy to have had the opportunity.

“I was very happy that I could help with fulfilling the gift for her 21st birthday and that the Soldiers visited our place,” Bamash said.

Ironically, Curtis’ love of horses began on her 10th birthday when she got her first horse, Queen Juniper. Queen passed away in 2015, and she now has a tattoo of her on her right arm. Curtis’ love of riding didn’t stop with Queen’s death, however. Back in Montana, she competes in barrel racing with the Big Sky Barrel Racing Association, moxies, or Western games with the Helena Trail Riders, and also competes in showjumping with the Montana Hunter Jumper Association.

“I love being able to go out and do something different that most people don’t get to do – being able to hang out with big powerful animals that are beautiful in their own way,” Curtis said. “You can basically do anything with them, try different things and they become your best friend.”

Though Curtis is typically shy and a bit reserved, the smile on her face while she sat atop Liberator showed Kissinger she had achieved her mission in giving her friend a birthday she will always remember.