Pfc. Jamie Dekker
When you think of the name "Dream Team" this dynamic, female duo is not what you might imagine as the lead team on a PAC-3 Patriot Missile Launcher. They rehearse with precision at a fast pace so that they are ready to protect populations and infrastructure.
The Patriot mission is vital to the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. The females are physically fit and fundamentally sound in their profession of arms. The frontline equipment that they maintain and operate is The PATRIOT Advanced Capability - 3 (PAC-3). It is the Army's premier guided air-and-missile defense (AMD) system that provides highly reactive hit-to-kill capability in both range and altitude while operating in all environments. The Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept of Target (PATRIOT) Missile protects ground forces and critical assets at all echelons from advanced aircraft, cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles (TBM).
Pfc. Jamie Dekker, from Cape Town, South Africa and Spc. Jessalynn Mestre, from Orlando, Fla. are both 14T Patriot Launching Station Enhanced Operator-Maintainers with Charlie Battery, 2-1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion located at Camp Carroll, Republic of Korea (ROK). They have been a team since day one that they were assigned to Launcher Platoon. They both arrived in ROK a little for a year ago, they are roommates, they do everything together and they have both extended in the ROK as part of the Assignment Incentive Pay (AIP) Program.
The AIP program is for those service members with certain skill sets such as 14T that have served for 12 months and volunteer to agree to extend their tour and receive assignment inceptive pay. Unaccompanied Soldiers are usually assigned to the ROK for one-year tour creating a constant turn-over of Soldiers in a unit.
"It is very important that they have chosen to AIP and says a lot about their character and leadership," 2nd Lt. Terry Yang, a 2-1 Air Defense Artillery Officer and Launcher Platoon Leader said. "We have a very high op-tempo. Soldiers have a constant change of Date of Estimated Return from Overseas (DEROS) and it is difficult for the frontline unit. They are the bread and butter of the frontline Patriot Battery."
Charlie Battery conducted recent training focused on preparation for upcoming Air Defense Gunnery Table (ADGT) VII and VIII certifications through March order and emplacement (MO&E) drills, Reconnaissance, Selection, Occupation of Position (RSOP) rehearsals, and air battles.
Spc. Mestre and Pfc. Dekker earned the title, "Dream Team" due to their hard work, demonstrated leadership and the love they show for their military occupation. They are the most experienced and top team in their platoon with the quickest time on drills and it is recognized by the other Soldiers in the platoon.
"We run our drills loud and with excitement. We make it fun," Pfc. Dekker said. "Running our drills is exciting and we love training new Soldiers."
It takes 17-25 minutes to emplace the equipment and prepare to fire 2nd Lt. Yang said. During a recent training event the Dream Team logged a time of 12:52 as they prepared for movement. The entire drill takes about 45 minutes and includes march order and placement drills. Following prepare for movement they conduct a convoy brief, simulate movement to the next location and prepare for emplacement at the new location. 2nd Lt. Yang said the main reasons that a team fails qualification is because of safety and paperwork. There are many points of safety that have to be performed when conducting the drills and the equipment has many maintenance points that require a pages of detailed paperwork.
"Everything is about safety when preparing to jump to the next location and emplacement," 2nd Lt. Yang said. "VIII Table Qualification is a requirement. This is a battery collective task to access the unit's ability to maneuver to wartime locations."
Personnel stationed in the ROK have a once in a life-time opportunity to experience a unique, vibrant culture unlike anywhere else in the world. They have the opportunity to explore and experience the Asia-Pacific and all the vibrant destination it has to offer. Spc. Mestre said this was also a factor in her decision to AIP.
"I really like to travel and venture out to other countries," Spc Mestre said. "I love the culture here. It is really different and the people are really nice."
Pfc. Jamie Dekker runs drills with an enthusiastic smile and said she loves training new Soldiers.
(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Marion Jo Nederhoed, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade)