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NEWS | April 7, 2020

Making an impact in Boleslawiec

By Maj. Olha Vandergriff 652nd Regional Support Group

NOTE: This is the fifth in an 11-part series on the 652nd Regional Support Group, out of Helena, Montana. The unit arrived in Poland on Sept. 26 to begin a mobilization where they became the first Army Reserve unit responsible for the operations of 11 (originally 10) base camps throughout the country. The series breaks down what teams do at each base camp. This story focuses on the Boleslawiec base camp

The roads and sidewalks in Boleslawiec base camp are laid in thousands of tiny cobblestones.

While the attention to detail may captivate visitors to the base, the meticulously laid cobblestone streets and stairs symbolize a lot of property accountability for Warrant Officer One Carrie Sayer.

“I signed for the cobblestones, 87,000 of them or something like that. It was like, what’s this,” Sayer said.

Sayer, along with Spc. Lauren Smith, both with the 652nd Regional Support Group, operate the mayor cell on Boleslawiec base camp, Poland. The small base serves as a basic training camp for Polish Soldiers and hosts about 400 U.S. Army Soldiers at any given time.

Smith and Sayer make up the only female team from the 11 base camps in Poland. Sayer, an allied trade specialist from Boise, Idaho, is the base camp mayor, while Smith, an intelligence analyst from Cassville, Pennsylvania, serves as deputy mayor.

“They do basic training here and they run artillery ranges here. The mini-shop by the dining facility sells Polish unit patches,” said Smith. “They bring the public on base to see the equipment and machinery and we are always invited to participate.”

Boleslawiec is one of the five bases that are part of cluster of bases in Zagan, Poland area. This team is the most junior team of the eleven base camp teams, and they handle the needs of a variety of units.

“Ms. Sayer and I are the only two lower-ranking teams, and I believe we are the only female team. Two ladies getting it done!” Smith said with a laugh.

Each unit assigned to Boleslawiec arrived with a unique mission to train with allied forces and to provide support to U.S. Soldiers stationed at other bases across Poland. Sayer and Smith make sure these units have what they need to live comfortably and be able to complete their mission on the based camp.

“We are doing all the little things,” Smith said. “We are working to get better heat for the maintenance tent so they can properly do PMCS (preventive maintenance checks and services). We moved some light sets around to help with visibility with track. They were doing PT down there and it was pretty dark.”

Sayer met Smith during a pre-deployment exercise at Fort Hood, Texas and immediately recruited her to work together.

“During the CTE (combat training exercise) I was slotted to be in an admin noncommissioned officer slot in Zagan, and Ms. Sayer didn’t have a deputy mayor so she needed help and said, ‘do you want to work with me?’ and I was like sure, so she by-name requested me,” Smith recalled.

The two work well together, offering different strengths to the team. Smith has an intelligence analyst background and is experienced in handling staff. She remembers small details while Sayer’s experience is technical-based, and she looks at a big-picture plan. Open communication is the key in developing this strong working relationship.

“We sit down and talk through issues,” adds Sayer. “But we troubleshoot things differently. Our team is unique.”

Smith worked as a civilian nurse after receiving her nursing license from Misericordia University. She worked in a variety of areas including pediatrics, home health, medical progressive care, and even emergency room trauma. But service in a different kind of uniform called her name.

“I woke up one day and enlisted in the Army as an intelligence analyst. Then I decided to switch from active duty to Reserve and during my first drill I was invited to come on this mobilization,” explains Smith.

Smith gladly accepted the mobilization and joined the team right after switching to Reserve duty. She missed wearing the uniform and the feeling of duty and camaraderie.

Sayer started her career as an allied trade specialist. Her background is in heavy construction, specifically, home building.

“I love construction, so they thought it would be beneficial to be a mayor for one of the sites,” explains Sayer.

Sayer, as a base camp mayor, made big plans for base improvement. The team planned and ordered Army Combat Fitness Test equipment, explored dining facility options, and designed a new motor pool layout. Sayer began crafting a standard operating procedure for the future to make sure units have a reference to draw information from.

“It’s fun to find out how the units work differently,” explains Sayer.

The team also added a computer lab to the base camp. This allowed Soldiers to come in and use the computers to talk to families, do classes, or just get away after a long day. They improved communication with the Polish military by serving as a single point of contact for the base.

“I think the Polish were happy to have one point of contact and we will be the contact and when we leave, we will teach others how things work. We will train them,” said Sayer.

The team does not stop with efforts on base. Their efforts extend into the community as well.

“We are looking to get the units involved in the town and with each other,” explained Smith. “It gives us that sense of accomplishment and that we are having an impact not just on us but also on the Polish community.”

The two said they have grown to love the architecture and history associated with Poland. And as a team of two ladies, they are making a historical impact in this community.

“It’s important to be part of the community. Especially in the situations like this when you are away from home,” Smith said.