We all have heroes and US Army Veteran SSG (retired) Carol Kelley Cassidy's hero is her daughter U S Army Combat veteran SPC Samantha Kelley.
Samantha is no stranger to the military. Her military roots include her father, step father, mom, uncle, and cousins who have served in the marines, air force, and army. They have fought and served from the Vietnam war era through the Afghanistan war.
Samantha said her military roots “Bonds us ( her family) and makes us closer.“
SPC Samantha Kelley enlisted in the army in 2009 as an intelligence analyst. She was assigned to the 3rd Maneuver Enhanced Brigade (MEB) in. Fort Richardson, Alaska.
When the MEB deactivated Samantha was transferred to 425th Special Troop Battalion, (STB) also in Alaska.
In 2011 deployed her unit deployed to Afghanistan for one year.
Samantha’s mission in Afghanistan was to track and identify insurgents, IED placements and provide other types of intelligence to the tactical operations center (TOC) and soldiers.
When Samantha enlisted in the military, her job choices (MOS, military occupational specialty) were military police (MP ) and military intelligence (MI)
Her mom, Carol Kelley Cassidy was an MP, Drill Sergeant and instructor. Because of her mom’s experience as an MP, Samantha was well versed in the MP lifestyle. Samantha said she also knew if she became an MP her mom would never leave her alone.
Samantha said, “ I needed the opportunity to be myself without completely being alone.” So she chose MI.
Carol was not totally out of picture though. When Carol was a civilian instructor she was assigned to to Samantha’s unit in Alaska. Carol spent 3 weeks as an instructor for the 425th STB. Later, as a civilian contractor. with DynCorp, Carol was assigned to the same place in Afghanistan where Samantha's unit was headed
Samantha went to Afghanistan with the 425th STB. They needed MI analysts, especially women soldiers like Samantha, to collect intelligence from the Afghanistan women.
Carol arrived in Afghanistan before Samantha's unit.
When Samantha arrived Carol's reaction was mixed. Carol said, “Hey it was pretty cool. I'm with my baby girl. Hey it's not so cool. My baby girl is in Afghanistan.”
Carol was only contracted to stay in Afghanistan for 4 months. Samantha would be there for another eight months.
Shortly after Carol left, Samantha's base was overrun by Insurgents. Samantha said it was terrifying. A lot of things happened in a short time. She was “trying not to freak out.” and said she used humor as her coping mechanism.
Her Mom, Carol, had sent Samantha sea monkeys. Samantha had named the biggest sea monkey, “ Supreme allied commander.”
When the bomb hit the base, it knocked her sea monkeys out of bowl and killed them. When Samantha saw the damage she concentrated on planning a funeral with military honors for her sea monkeys and that's how she got through that minute and the next.
When Samantha's term of enlistment ended in 2014, she decided to pursue other interests.
Samantha said “ Serving in the Army was a great experience. It gave me the direction I needed in my life and gave me resiliency to adapt and overcome when things weren't going the way I wanted them too.”
Carol served as an MP, Drill Sergeant and Instructor. She said she had an awesome career and did a lot of cool stuff. She loved the military and retired in 2005.
Fort McClellan, Alabama, Italy, Korea, and Fort Leonard Wood are some of the places where Carol was stationed. She also deployed to the Pentagon during 9/11.
After retirement Carol continued working with and for soldiers. She hasn't done anything that isn't related to soldiers. One of her jobs was a VA benefits advisor.
Carol told the Daily Guide, “It was the best job I ever had. Vets helping vets. That's what it's all about. There's that bond between us (veterans) that no one else can fill. It’s the innate nature of veterans, especially women veterans, to serve, to help, to do something and not stand idly by. We're born to serve.”
Carol has retired from her job as a VA Benefits Advisor. Using her experience and love for serving, Carol now volunteers to help veterans.
Both mother and daughter agree that their military bond has brought them closer and connected them in such a way that they now have a better understanding of each other.