NCOs re-up in Iraq, families watch from home

Story and Photo by Spc. Naveed Ali Shah
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Two noncommissioned officers re-enlisted in the Army Oct. 6 during a ceremony here at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, extending their careers indefinitely as their families watched from home.

The commanding general for the Fort Hood, Texas-based 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, conducted the re-enlistment ceremony for 1st Sgt. Francis Halmsteiner, the senior NCO for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th SC(E), and Staff Sgt. Fernando Flores, operations NCO for HHC, 13th ESC.

The Soldiers’ Families watched from the 13th SC(E) conference room at Fort Hood through a video teleconference link, allowing them to see and hear the ceremony.

Following the re-enlistment, Wentz commended the Soldiers and their Families for their decision to serve their country during a time of war.

“Thank you, because without you supporting your Soldier, I know they couldn’t do what they do,” said Wentz.

Halmsteiner, a 14-year veteran of the Army and a native of Fairfield, Calif., enlisted in the Army as a medic in 1990.

“I was looking for something more exciting than college,” said Halmsteiner. “I earned my Expert Field Medical Badge, jump wings and I was certified as an emergency medical technician during my first enlistment.”

Halmsteiner said he left the service for a time but felt the Army pulling him back, so he came back on active duty in 2008 and joined the 13th SC(E) just in time for pre-deployment training.

Flores, a 10-year veteran of the service and a native of Laredo, Texas, enlisted because he enjoyed the feeling it gave him. He considers it an honor to give back to his country and be a mentor to other Soldiers.

“It’s a great satisfaction knowing I can influence Soldiers and help them as they try to come up through the ranks,” he said.

Both Soldiers said their Families had an enormous effect on their decision to re-enlist indefinitely in the Army.

“This is the career of careers,” said Halmsteiner, “but I had to think of my Family. My first son will be born next month and I’m here in Iraq.”

While Halmsteiner’s family is young, Flores has six children, including two step-children, ranging in age from three years to 20 years old. In Flores’ career, he’s spent roughly two years on hardship tours to Korea and this is his third tour in Iraq.

“Half my career I’ve been away from home,” said Flores. “So my wife and kids were a huge factor in my decision.”

His wife of 10 years, Amparo Flores, said she supports her husband’s decision to reenlist.

“It’s going to be challenging and there’s going to be a lot of hurdles, but I think it’s going to be great,” said Amparo Flores. “We’re in it together; he’s here for me, I’m here for him.”

Halmsteiner and Flores said they spoke to their Families numerous times before they made the decision.

“I’m really proud of my husband,” said Amparo Flores. “Not only for what he’s accomplished, but for what he’s going to accomplish. I’m very proud.”

 

news photo
The commanding general for the Fort Hood, Texas-based 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, conducted the re-enlistment ceremony for 1st Sgt. Francis Halmsteiner, the senior noncommissioned officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th SC(E), and Staff Sgt. Fernando Flores, operations NCO for HHC, 13th SC(E), Oct. 6 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

news photo
The commanding general for the Fort Hood, Texas, based 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, conducted the re-enlistment ceremony for 1st Sgt. Francis Halmsteiner, the senior noncommissioned officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th SC(E), and Staff Sgt. Fernando Flores, operations NCO for HHC, 13th SC(E), Oct. 6 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.